Posts tagged painting
Max Cole 'Crosswinds" at Larry Becker Contemporary Art
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If you find yourself in Philadelphia before the end of the year, we highly suggest stopping by Larry Becker Contemporary Art to see their current exhibition. To be honest, it wasn’t yet on my radar when I decided to go gallery hopping on a Saturday in November. I happened to begin chatting with an artist sitting a co-op space nearby and he urged me to go over and take a look. ‘Crosswinds’ presents paintings and works on paper by American artist Max Cole. I won’t give away too much here since the owners are more than happy to tell you about this incredible artist and her work - so go see some great art and say hi to their adorable gallery cat!

Max Cole
’Crosswinds’
On view Nov 10 - Dec 29, 2018

You can follow the gallery on Facebook & Instagram.

Max Cole’s paintings suggest an approach to infinity through the use of vertical repetitive lines, a record of intense focus that is said to contain energy as embedded content. The artist describes this process, which she has worked in for over 50 years, as meditative. Though sometimes compared to the work of Agnes Martin, the similarities between the practices are superficial. “There is no other way to produce the work except for a depth of engagement requiring the abandonment of self," Cole has explained, "and this process opens the door to infinity enabling reach outside the physical. For me art must transcend the material.” Born in 1937 in Hodgeman County, KS, she received her BFA from Fort Hays State University in Kansas and her MFA from the University of Arizona in Tucson. Influenced by the Suprematist works of Kazimir Malevich during the late 1950s, she began producing paintings which reflected on time with simple forms. The artist lives and works in California. Today, Cole’s works are held the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, among others.

Artist biography adapted from Artnet.

Supernatural Aura: Interview with Dana Oldfather

These works celebrate paint while examining roles of motherhood and femininity. Images of family, friends, and the female figure drive composition. Sometimes scenes are recalled from memory and sometimes I use my camera roll for loose reference. Fantasy and obligation charge and bind domestic environments, giving recent memories new form. The space is similar to that of a hallucination, where one is unsure what is real and what is not. Objects bleed into and become one another. Paint veils, drips, splashes, airbrush passages, and wet into wet oil marks add to the tension and supernatural aura of the scene. Figure, object, and landscape spin out and smear together as the paintings shudder with a pulsing, nervous energy. I use anxious, frenetic mark making to mirror a rushing world distorted by apprehension. These paintings underscore the inherent emotional conflict of parenting young children, and the fragility of comfort and happiness in America today. 

www.danaoldfather.com

by Sarah Mills

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You have an extremely unique and interesting style, how did you develop it?

Thank you so much! Previously, I made mixed media, non-objective abstract paintings. Eliminating recognizable subjects helped me concentrate on how I instinctively handle paint. I noticed the difference between what my brush did when it hit the palette and what it did when it hit the canvas. I liked what my hand was doing was I wasn’t trying to make a mark better than what it did when I was trying. I wanted to figure out how to bring that force and confidence to my canvases. In 2017, after developing this mark making for over five years, I decided it was time to bring the figure back in. I’m enjoying using a variety of media, real and abstract objects and reconciling them within the work.

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How do you go about starting a new piece?

I sketch ideas - funny or odd things I’ve seen recently or memories that leave a taste in my mouth. Many sketches don’t turn into paintings, but it is a valuable part of my editing process. The paintings take longer to make than they have in the past so I need to be sure the idea can sustain me through to the end.

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What is your favorite part of your creative process?

The newest addition to my mixed media arsenal is the airbrush and I’ve really been enjoying it lately. Developmentally, the middle stage of these paintings is an absolute mess. I start using the airbrush near the end of the middle stage when all the discordant bits start to tune in. The airbrush has a magical feel, as though every unexpected mark it makes fits my need exactly. I like the way it’s fuzzy, hinky line establishes pictorial depth. The airbrush also contrasts well with the atmospheric acrylic washes and splashes of the early layers, and the heavy wet into wet oil marks of the later layers of the painting.

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Can you tell us more about your subject matter and where you draw inspiration from?

The strangeness of the human condition, predominantly in relationships of motherhood and family, fuels this work. The scenes are domestic but dreamlike and hallucinatory. Figures are tied up and bound together. They are propped up by each other but they are imprisoned by each other as well. Color harmonies and clumsy, endearing forms create joyful moments while frenetic marks remind us of the effort and strain it takes to bring those moments about. In these scenes, happiness is earned at a price.

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What are you currently working on?

I’m working on canvases for two out of town solo shows and a two-person show in Cleveland next year. The galleries out of town hold inventory from the exhibitions so I make new work for each show. As I mentioned earlier, the paintings develop slowly now. I finally understand that I can’t get too worried about my schedule. I’m making work for the pleasure of making it.

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Your work is so layered and has so many beautiful moments in it, how do you decide when a piece is finished?

Thank you very much!! I appreciate that. What I’ve wanted to see in a finished painting has evolved with my experience for sure. I expect more from the work now. I want to see a certain fullness in each part of the surface before I can stop adding (or removing and adding) more. Even areas that look like big empty spaces have activity. They vibrate with layered texture and color. Once the painting hums I know it’s done.

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What is one piece of advice you would share with our readers?

I enjoy reading books about writing. The good ones are full of helpful advice that, in my opinion, can apply to most art forms. I recently finished “Draft No 4” by John McPhee, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, and pioneer of creative nonfiction. In a chapter titled ‘Omission’, he discusses the importance of leaving things out of one's writing. As an additive painter, it’s given me a lot to chew on. He advises that “Writing (insert painting) is a selection. If something interests you, it goes in - if not, it stays out. Forget market research. Never market research your writing (painting).” And my favorite from McPhee later in that chapter: that one ought to “Give elbow room to the creative reader (viewer). In other words, to the extent that this is all about you, leave that out.”

Andrew Wapinski "Transmutation" at Callan Contemporary

Born in Saint Clair, Pennsylvania, Andrew Wapinski is a visual artist whose current practice is rooted in the memories of interacting with the environment of the historic coal mining town in which he grew up. His work places great importance on the physicality of material and its relationship to artistic process. Melting blocks of pigmented ice, hand-ground anthracite coal and the collection of dust from his reductive painting processes lay the foundation for Wapinski to investigate interwoven themes of liminal space, reclamation and material significance as they relate to shifting environments and sense of place.

He will be presenting a solo exhibition entitled "Transmutation" at Callan Contemporary in New Orleans from September 1 - 30. The opening reception will be held on Saturday, September 1 from 6 - 9 pm.

TRANSMUTATION

Fluidity and change—the waxing, waning duet between human beings and nature—are the subjects of Andrew Wapinski’s formally elegant, conceptually rich mixed-media paintings on linen-mounted panel.  In his debut exhibition with Callan Contemporary, Wapinski presents a suite of evocative abstract works, which project a contemplative, Zen-like serenity while encapsulating personal and anthropological narratives.  The paintings flow from a time-intensive process that Wapinski first developed in 2013, in which ink- and pigment-infused ice melts onto canvas in controlled fashion, imprinting organic forms.  “This establishes a foundation to open a dialogue between natural process and personal interaction,” the artist observes.  “For me, the melting ice is symbolic of geological process and a metaphor for the passage of time.”  Wapinski adds and excavates thin layers of gesso, responding intuitively to the shapes.  A hard dividing line, or scission, emerges along with the forms through myriad additive and subtractive strata.  This creates a texture differential reminiscent of the strip-mined hills he grew up around in St. Clair, Pennsylvania, and evokes the moment of potentiality when natural environment and human interaction, in cycles of construction and deconstruction, evolve together into something new.  Organic gesture and geometry become interwoven in a mélange of personal memory and socio-geological critique.

Wapinski earned a B.F.A. in painting from Kutztown University (Pennsylvania) and an M.F.A. in painting from the University of Delaware.  His work has been reviewed in publications such as The Washington Post, New American Paintings, and Artline and has been exhibited recently at Elmhurst Art Museum (Illinois), as well as galleries in New York, Washington, D.C., and Cincinnati.  The paintings are included in significant private and corporate collections throughout the United States.

Influenced by minimalists Agnes Martin, Richard Serra, and Donald Judd, Wapinski’s sensibility also evokes the Land Art movement of the 1960s and 70s.  In materiality and technique, the paintings allude to the primal call-and-response of man and nature, the shaper and the shaped, each altering the other’s trajectory from prehistory through the present day.  In poetical greyscale tones and washes they speak to the dialectics of permanence and impermanence, the local and the global.  The artist sees the works not only as metaphors for geologic processes, but also as embodying “a kind of alchemy:  the idea of transmutation; the forms changing from one state to another; the shaping of material with intent.”

                                                                                                                          by Richard Speer

All images courtesy of the artist.

Ida Ivanka Kubler at Salena Gallery, LIU Brooklyn

Artist Ida Ivanka Kubler will be presenting a solo exhibition of paintings entitled "Birth of an Idea" at Salena Gallery, LIU Brooklyn. The show will run from September 4 - October 26 with an opening reception on Wednesday, September 12 between 6 and 8pm. 

LIU Brookyn
Salena Gallery

First Floor, Library Learning Center
1 University Plaza
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Gallery Hours: Monday-Friday 9 am-6 pm, Saturday-Sunday, 10 am – 5 pm
Travel: B, Q, R to DeKalb Avenue; 2, 3, 4, 5 to Nevins Street; A, C, F to Jay Street
For more information please contact Nancy Grove at 718-488-1198 or nancy.grove@liu.edu

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Ida Ivanka Kubler (born January 3, 1978, Bulgaria) is an international artist based in New York.

“Up to my 7th year, I lived with my grandparents in a small village in South Bulgaria, almost at the border to Greece. The village was well known for its silkworm sericulture. I often was sitting under the mulberry trees, painting silk cocoons with reddish paint I made from crushed red bricks. The silk cocoons became the initial material for my artwork.” (2012)

Organic in appearance and abstract in presence, Kubler's Birth of an Idea series features simple circle settings consisting of an abundance of painted and sculptured silk cocoons positioned on large canvases. Using what she calls “imaginative touch”, Kubler transforms cocoons left behind by the silk moth from their original identity into transcendent assemblages of colors and shapes reminiscent of Indian Mandalas or ancient Greek mosaics.

Ms. Kubler’s Birth of an Idea series has been recognized by the Behring Institute for Medical Research as having a positive influence on public health. She has worked worldwide, including in Germany, France,  Bulgaria, Norway, USA and the UK and has a wide base of international collectors. Ms. Kubler attended the National Academy of Arts, Sofia, Bulgaria; the University of Applied Arts, Bielefeld, Germany; and the Chelsea College of Art and Design, London, UK. 

Ida Ivanka Kubler is fiscally sponsored by The Solo Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit, tax exempt organization providing artists and not-for-profit organizations with operational and programmatic assistance.

Artist Statement

Capturing the beauty of transformation, the empty cocoon represents the completed process of change and its success. The brightness of the colors celebrates the transition from one state of being to another and honors its glorious unfoldment. The arrangement of the cocoons within the circular shape represents unity and connection. The contrast in colors creates a center point on which to focus the mind.  It is within the cocoon, in isolation and in silence, that the metamorphosis happens. This is true for the human mind as well. Similar to a mandala and its incredible potential to assist in the practice of meditation, the Birth of an Idea series expands on this tool by incorporating nature into its structure. As such, the viewer enters and experiences the artwork, be it consciously or in a trance-like state, and is encouraged to pause and remember the healing power of stillness and silence that resides within each of us.

Stephan Dobosh

Stephan Dobosh is a Philadelphia painter and installation artist whose studio practice employs a careful consideration of Symbolist literary devices, automatic writing, and visual free association. He uses art-making as a physical documentation of his own past experiences and state of mind. Through the subconscious psychological connections between color, sound, text, and implied imagery, he wants to provide an entrance for the viewer to be able to free associate, transforming these elements from static objects to dynamic associations. Dobosh has been selected to exhibit at Goldilocks Gallery and Kitchen Table Gallery, is a member of the Plastic Club, and holds a BFA in Interdisciplinary Fine Art from The University of the Arts.

Statement

Symbolist methods of engaging in the “derangement of the senses” and making the unseen seen is at the core of my practice. I investigate “escapist” themes within American culture and the identity of the Artist. Using the vernacular of painting, I blur the distinction between sculpture, installation, painting, and performance by employing domestic objects, spray paint, glitter, and fabric to compose “extended paintings” and construct spaces. My work reflects my personal and artistic identity, eliciting a sensual experience that acts as an escape while making social and artistic critique.

Pierrette Marisa Komarek

Pierrette Marisa Komarek is a watercolorist with a passion for creating richly colored and skillfully rendered still life paintings. Read on to hear her story and to see additional works, you can follow her on Instagram!

I was born in Miami, FL but our family migrated to the northeast near Lancaster, PA when I was very young. Very early in life I discovered that I loved to paint. It seemed that I was born to paint from the first moment I touched a paint brush to color and transferred it to a piece of paper. I was captivated by color and light and I would be so involved in my work I often forgot to eat. Time stood still or flew by - I was oblivious to it when I was painting - it's all I wanted to do.

I read everything on art and painting I could find over the years and through practice and study I continuously evolved as a self taught painter. I married very young. By the time I was thirty, I was a single mom with three kids to take care of. The next 20 years left little time for painting. Now with my children grown, I can put more time into my painting and it feels like someone has opened the curtains and flooded the room with light and color again.

Some of the painters that appeal to me are Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, and Janet Fish - all bold painters. I work in watercolors and have always been fascinated by them and the effects that are possible through the process of layering. I love the process of being a still life painter. The difficulty of the medium challenges me and the effects available with transparent layering cannot be replicated in any other media to the extent it can in watercolors.

My goal is to make the ordinary extraordinary and present the viewer with a visual interpretation that is imbued with a unique character of light and color that reveals the intrinsic beauty hidden within the ordinary. I want to draw the viewer into an experience of light and color that will linger in the heart long past the experience of viewing the painting.

Paradigm Gallery: Scott Albrecht at Scope Miami Beach

Scott Albrecht was born in 1983 in New Brunswick, NJ, and raised in Bethlehem Township, NJ. In 2003, he received a degree in Graphic Design from The Art Institute of Philadelphia. Scott is currently based in Brooklyn, NY and a member of The Gowanus Studio Space. His work incorporates elements of woodworking, hand-drawn typography, geometric collage using vintage printed ephemera and found objects and has been published and exhibited both domestically and internationally.  

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What inspired your recent work?

A large part of my work is directly inspired by daily experiences or relationships that I have and I wind up using my work as a way to get a deeper understanding of what’s happening. I think this past year I’ve been influenced by a lot of situations that overlap on one another, and I’m more and more trying to understand my relationships and take stock in what is important. 

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How do you come up with the geometry and color palette in each piece?

All the works in this collection, in one way or another, stem from abstracted typography, so the base of each piece builds up from an underlying message. Since the words themselves are abstracted, the color palettes do a lot of the initial work in terms of setting the mood and tone of a piece. I spend a lot of time trying to think about how that idea can be translated with color.

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Tell us about the work that will be on display at Scope during this year’s Art Basel Week in Miami. What is this year's focus?

I’ll have a collection of new woodworks on view with Paradigm Gallery that are stemming from a few different series’ that I’ve been working on and evolving. Each work is comprised of several dozen (if not 100+) individually cut pieces of wood that are then sanded, painted and re-assembled.

Conceptually a bigger theme for me this past year has been the idea of acceptance and understanding and learning to embrace a situation as-is. I think the works in the collection that I have been meditating on the most are a triptych stemming from the Wabi Sabi philosophy that all things are imperfect, incomplete and impermanent.

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What is a day in a life like for you? How do you find a balance between your studio practice and other commitments?

Each day varies depending on what I’m working on or what my focus is, but I try to keep a pretty large pool of projects and pieces going that I can work on so that if I get burned out or just need to switch gears I can do that and come back to whatever it is with a fresh perspective. One day I might be in the wood shop working on some pieces, the next I might be getting proposals together or making a zine… it really varies day-to-day and I like that flexibility to keep the days from being monotonous. In terms of other commitments, I’ve learned that giving myself a set schedule in the studio is really important. I generally work from 10-7 and having that cut-off forces me to really focus on what I need to get done that day, otherwise I’ll totally just work all day and all night.

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What is an important element in your work that you want viewers to be aware of?

I don’t know that I want viewers to be aware of anything in particular. Because the work is more abstract, there’s something really nice in that someone may see something that I may not see, or that they can form their own relationship to a piece.

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Share a piece of advice with other artists that helped you along the way.

Always keep going. The harder you work, the better luck you have.

Also don’t compare yourself to other people. Everyone is at a different time and place in their journey.

Interview: Jeanette Morrow

Jeanette Morrow earned her B.F.A. from the Savannah College of Art and Design. After college, she worked in public relations for a number of years before eventually returning to her roots as a fine artist. She formally launched Morrow Studio in November 2016 and has been working out of her studio in Manhattan ever since. Her abstract paintings are hallmarked by larger scale color stories that are loose, gestural and emotional. 

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What inspired you to become an artist? Can you tell me about your background in art? 

I was born with a draw to the arts, but it was my high school art teacher who was the first to nudge me towards exploring my work further. He, and an accumulation of other voices collected in my head saying, “Yes. This. Do this.” fueled my desire to become an artist. As a rising senior, I went to a summer art camp (nerd alert!) and decided to apply to an art college. By the fall I was accepted into the Savannah College of Art and Design.

How was it to break away from art for a period of time in your early career? What urged you to return to it? 

Honestly, I was finding a lot of fulfillment in my career in the digital arts that I didn’t really miss the fine arts for the first few years of my corporate career. Once I had a family and knew I didn’t want to do the travel my job required, I decided to stay at-home with my daughter and freelance. It was then that it became less and less of a joy and more and more apparent that I missed painting and ceramics. At the time we were living on a small farm outside of Atlanta and converted our barn into a studio. The very early official works of Morrow Studio were born there!

Are you now painting full-time? What is your studio like? 

I split my time in the studio between painting and ceramics. I thought to get traction or exposure, I had to choose one or the other, but the perk of being my own boss is that I can do whatever I want! I’ve had to wrestle with preconceived notions of what “success” was going to look like for me. Exposure is important to the survival of an art career, but so is genuineness.

We have the very rare luxury of space in Manhattan and have converted a spare room in our townhouse into my current studio. When I’m not in there, I’m hanging with my two toddlers.

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How do you plan a day in your studio? Are there certain tasks that you always do? 

Time management is crucial to my time in the studio, as I only get a few hours a day to create (thanks to the aforementioned toddlers). A gift I am thankful for is my ability to work quickly. It doesn’t help with my patience in day-to-day tasks, but I sure do appreciate it when I have to focus on a commission deadline! Studio must-haves are a huge cup of black coffee, my favorite music playing (playlists change depending on the mood of the piece) and bodega blooms.

Use a few words you think best describe the aesthetic of your abstract paintings. Is there a specific feeling or idea you wish to convey through your work? 

Layered, moody, dramatic, loose. My favorite pieces are the ones that capture a feeling of movement and emotion. I have respect for the medium and let that play heavily in the process. I can’t control when the paint bleeds or how it sprays. As hokey as it may sound, it feels like a collaborative creation between myself and the medium.

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Why don't you title your works? 

Each piece most definitely has an intention or inspiration behind it, but I shy away from overtly sharing that with the observer. I don’t want to rob them of their imagination and thoughts of the piece by bulldozing over them with mine. Kind of like when a book gets turned into a movie.

What media do you use? 

I use a variety of materials, but primarily acrylic paint and prisma colors. Since acrylic is water-based, I can achieve the fluidity and texture that I desire.

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What is your painting process like? What do you do to generate new ideas?

To the disappointment of many art teachers, I have found the more methodical and planned I try to be before actually putting paint on the canvas, the unhappier I am with the end result. I can easily overthink and overwork and feel the first mark is the scariest, so I rip the bandaid off. If it’s a commission, then of course I’ll make sure the palette is correct and keep inspiration photos and notes nearby.

I find my environment the most fruitful to generating new ideas. I seek beauty in interiors and nature and when I’m immersed there, it’s the easiest to be inspired.

Which other artists interest you? In what ways do you find inspiration from their work?

Robert Rauschenberg was the artist who first lit the fire in me to create. I remember learning about his career in high school and couldn’t shake the urge to get my hands dirty after that. Currently, there’s so much talent out there that I find those who are unapologetic about their work to be the most interesting. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good, safe and pretty floral piece, and have many in my home, but artists who seemingly don’t care what others think is the most appealing. Southern folk art has always inspired me in this way. Artists in that genre usually have little formal training, but cannot stop themselves from creating and their love and passion just pours out into their work.

How has your practice developed or changed since you first launched your studio? 

I’ve learned so much in the infancy of studio. First, that comparison truly is the thief of joy. I check-in with myself often and if feelings of doubt outweigh my feelings of creativity then it’s time to log out of my social media and sit with myself so I don’t lose sight of my intentions. From a business perspective, I realized quickly that getting a thick skin was going to be as important as a good brush.

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Recent Gallery Exhibitions in Amsterdam

This past weekend, several galleries in Amsterdam opened their doors on Saturday evening to celebrate the opening or closing of new and recent exhibitions. My first stop was to visit Ornis A. Gallery’s presentation of paintings by Bart Kok. His solo exhibition The Ideology of Pipe Smoking features works in intense, saturated tones that are often figural, but with a touch of humor and surrealism.

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Walking along the same street, the photographs in the window of Galerie Wouter van Leeuwen immediately caught my attention so I went in to inquire about the artist. Inside, not only did I find a beautiful show of Steve Fitch’s images capturing nostalgic and quintessentially ‘American’ landscapes, but also an impeccably curated collection of photographs from artists the gallery represents - including pieces from Michael Wolf’s Tokyo Compression series.

Steve Fitch:

Michael Wolf:

Also nearby is Stigter van Doesburg, which is currently featuring a solo show by Amie Dicke. According to the gallery press release: “The Liver Must Go To The Images brings together new works, which deploy printed matter as a sculptural material. Pictures pulled from various sources – including newspaper clippings, fashion magazines and art monographs – are broken down and built up into new image-objects wherein the partial obliteration of pictorial content becomes another mode of inscription.” Of particular interest were two smaller works tucked away in the back corner entitled My split self and My split self II, 2016.

Prelude: Forever Someone Else at GRIMM gallery’s Keizersgracht location (they also have a second outpost in Amsterdam and another space in New York) features a selection of works by Desiree Dolron. Their press release explains:

“The exhibition is a prelude to a larger body of work that will be the subject of a new monograph, scheduled for publication in 2020.

The title ‘Forever Someone Else’ refers to a book of selected poems by Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935), a writer, philosopher, mystic and astrologer. Pessoa employed as many as 75 alter egos, referred to as heteronyms, which he deployed at will to disseminate various philosophical and theoretical views.

This exhibition reveals a body of work from Dolron never previously exhibited. Included are various self-portraits in such distinct environments that each becomes an alter ego of the artist, functioning much like Pessoa’s heteronyms. The viewer witnesses the artist adapting, changing and evolving with each situation.”

Highlights in the exhibition included a striking self-portrait of the artist as well as a triptych of photographs.

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“Starting with works from 1991, the exhibition presents photographs taken in Pakistan and India, depicting Romani, the world’s oldest roaming nomad tribe. The earliest self-portrait in the exhibition features Dolron when she returned to the site in 1997, standing with an AK-47 amidst Taliban child soldiers.”

“Three individual images are shown on another wall; a speeding car, symbolizing the American dream, taken in Cuba (2002), a portrait of a beautiful girl from the Dominican Republic gazing melancholically into the camera (2001) [image], and a desert landscape shot at night in California (1990); the blacks intense, the light subdued. Together, these three images promote ideas of power and status.”

All images courtesy of the artists and their respective galleries. 

Angela Gram

New Jersey based artist Angela Gram opens up a window into a surreal and wild view of nature in her complex paintings of deer, apes and panthers. Each painting shows a scene in which majestic animals are fractured and doubled, distorting perception and warping our sense of perspective. Gram’s sophisticated style and skill allows her to capture the powerful aura of these wild creatures while at the same time rupturing the composition, causing a deeply psychological affect. An aggressive, roaring lion becomes like shattered glass in the artist’s painting titled Lion’s Head. In the artist’s most recent work, unnatural, psychedelic colors are introduced, generating a whole new kind of energy from the environments she builds in her compositions. 

Angela Gram says, “Through these works, I intend to embrace a larger environmental dialogue and passionately explore creativity where nature retains its value as a vehicle for direct observation, understanding, and self expression.”
(Gallery Poulsen)

The artist's work not only sparks conversation concerning our relationship with nature, but it also offers its viewers a gateway to explore our own imagination in relation to our environment and how this can alter what is possible. 

Gram earned a BFA from from Rhode Island School of Design and an MFA from the New York Academy of Art. She has participated in several artist residencies, and has exhibited in a variety of cities all over the world. She is currently represented by Gallery Poulsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, where you can find more of her beautiful artwork. 

Interview: Jean Alexander Frater

The tension between opposites in Chicago based artist Jean Alexander Frater’s work – color versus blank canvas, matte versus sheen, flatness versus dimensionality – initially draws one to her work. But moving beyond the surface of deftly painted color gradients and folds in the canvas that extend beyond its wooden supports demonstrate much more than her interest in the formal properties of painting. Her work is a deeper exploration into the meaning, significance, and history of the medium itself. Looking back to a moment in history where both artists and critics were deconstructing painting to its most basic elements in order to assess its relevance in the modern era, Frater revisits this notion today, addressing the same concerns from a contemporary perspective through her series of “Soft Paintings”.

When did you begin creating your “Soft Paintings” and how were they a development from the work you had been making previously?

The first idea of the ‘Soft Paintings’ occurred when I was completely engrossed in making another series of paintings called ‘Gravity Paintings.’  The Gravity Paintings are made by allowing paint to drip and run over bands of gradient color, each thin line of paint propelled down the surface by gravity, and the quality of the line changing as the surface of the canvas varies.  The Paintings deal with a kind of chance operation, and my decisions are working in direct collaboration with the material.  

I made a Soft Painting during this period and it hung in my studio for a while, kind of lingering in the periphery. I began making them in earnest about a year and a half ago.  Then I was given this great opportunity to work with an outdoor project space called The Franklin, in Chicago and Ionit Behar included me in a group show titled, “My Feet Have Lost Memory of Softness.”  During our studio visits we talked about the Soft Paintings, and we talked about soft ideas, and the hardness of things. I visited The Franklin to propose my piece and decided to use the existing structure as the support or frame for my paintings.  It is an indoor/outdoor structure, so I had this interesting situation where the paintings could exist as double sided.  I painted four enormous canvases, one side of each painting was stretched inside the structure and the excess painted canvas was pulled through the wooden slats of the exterior structure. It was a great opportunity to think about painting and architecture.

Which artists influence your work - who from the past do you look to and which contemporary artists interest you?

There are so many!  I am interested in contemporary artist Justin Adian’s sculptural color paintings; also Judy Ledgerwood’s use of color, pattern, and paint application is inspiring.  I spent some time recently reading about and looking at the work of Lucio Fontana, especially his cut paintings, and his consideration of light is meaningful. Finally, I’ll mention Frank Stella who has been one of my favorite artists forever, and in a big way his work sort of turned me on to Elizabeth Murray’s paintings; especially her integration of painted forms and shaped canvases.

Talk about your process of creating a painting. How do you decide when a work is finished?

For me, painting is part of a three-tiered process. The chronological order of these three steps can shift depending on what I am concentrating on. There is the assembling of the stretcher bars (putting together the support), there is the painting itself, which involves applying paint to the surface of the material, and there is the stretching of the material over the support. 

Before I paint, I do lots of rough sketches and drawings. The drawings are a way to hypothesize about the idea. Then, once I find a compelling idea, I try it out. 

Sometimes the idea is completely lost in the physical translation, and it is often the case that the painted surface isn’t quite right, or I cut the canvas at the wrong angle, etc.  If the idea doesn’t work, or once I have begun if a solution does not evolve, then I roll up the canvas and put it away.

What do you hope your audience takes away or experiences from your work?

I hope audiences see that this work is about Painting and the way we perceive things. I hope they notice the material, the paint, the support, the shadows, the color, the stillness, the motion, the weight and the buoyancy. I hope that audiences are able to have a heightened idea about the space of the painting and the space the paintings occupy.

In preparation for your upcoming solo exhibition, how are you thinking about the presentation of your works?

With this particular body of work, I have decided to try to make each painting have it’s own idea and relationship to perception and space.  I don’t want to offer up iterations of one thought.  I hope that one painting can have a conversation with another, and then another object can open up a tangential but related experience. I will be really concentrating on how the pieces are arranged in relationship to each other, the different sources of light, and the space itself.

Artist Biography:

Jean received her MFA from the School of Art Institute of Chicago, after earning a Bachelor of Science Degree with a major in Philosophy, at the University of Dayton, Ohio. Her work has been exhibited internationally in venues such as the Wexner Center for Arts in Columbus, El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe, the Images Festival in Toronto, Possible Project Space in Brooklyn, the Big Screen Project in New York, the Ben-Gurion airport in Tel Aviv, the Kulturhuset in Stockholm, Transmitter Gallery in Brooklyn and Guest Spot @ The Reinstitute in Baltimore. Jean’s paintings were included in the latest edition of New American Paintings, Midwest #125. Jean is represented by THE MISSION Gallery, in Chicago, where she will have a solo show in April 2017.

Interview: Elody Gyekis

Elody Gyekis earned her BFA in Painting and Ceramics from Penn State. Her artwork includes painting, drawing, and sculpture and has been exhibited widely throughout the US. Her work has been in shows or is included in private collections in Romania, Germany, England, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Brazil, China, and Canada. She completed an artist residency in Sibiu, Romania in 2014 and has taught intensive painting workshops as part of an artist residency in both Costa Rica and Honduras. Elody is also an active muralist, having created several community based projects throughout Pennsylvania. She splits her time between living in Pennsylvania, Central America, and New York City, where she will begin her Master of Fine Arts studies at the New York Academy of the Arts in 2017.

What first drew you to art or inspired you to become an artist? 

That is a difficult answer for me, as the impulse to create is as old as my first memories. I had an isolated childhood, not always but in the sense that I did spend many hours alone. I lived on a small mountain in central Pennsylvania that had only three houses on it and both of my parents worked, so after day care or school, I spent my afternoons largely alone (my older brother was around but not usually engaging with me). I read, I drew, I collected fossils. I dug clay in the stream bank and made pinch pots. I made fairy houses out of twigs and leaves. I drew. My parents were creative and encouraged me. My grandmother was an art teacher and so visits to her always involved arts and crafts. Later, in high school, I would spend hours on drawings and paintings after school, creating enough work of high enough quality that I was able to get into a phenomenal program that sadly does not exist anymore: The Pennsylvania Governor's School for the Arts, a prestigious full scholarship summer art program that was in Erie, PA. There, for the first time in my life, I was surrounded by many talented and creative kids, many of us the "misfits" of our own schools, and together we found belonging and encouragement and inspiration and our creativity and passion flourished. I was 16 when I went, and it changed my life, giving me confidence in myself and planting the seed of the idea that I could pursue art as a career. 

How did your early career develop and where did you study?

I studied at Penn State University. I applied to and got into MICA, Pratt, SFAI and other art schools, but decided on Penn State for financial reasons. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that they had a strong art program, great faculty, and as part of the Honors College I had access to wonderful academic classes to feed my intellectual curiosity, which in turn fed my studio practice. I earned a double BFA in Painting/Drawing and Ceramics while I was at Penn State.  I started organizing and creating community murals during my freshman summer break, which almost inadvertently turned into a significant portion of my career and income out of school as I was trying to figure out how to make a living as an artist through a combination of painting sales, public art, commission work, and teaching painting classes. 

Figure painting in particular has such a long history, how does your work fit into this canon? What is your interest in this subject and especially the female form?

My work is fueled by collaboration, driven towards beauty, and preoccupied with the feminine experience. It explores the internal battles faced by women as we confront society’s prefabricated narratives, realize our unique identities, and compose our personal responses to the emotions that shape the human experience. I am particularly interested in the conflict that emerges when the contemporary female experience collides with the narratives that we have inherited through myths, folktales and fairy tales. In my compositions, reality merges with the mystical, allowing me to recreate historical fables and invented tales from the perspective of the heroines living the stories today.

My first use of myths as a source of visual allegory resulted in a painting series informed by my fascination with animal-human hybrids, exploring the idea of two distinct and contrary entities sharing the same body. I wanted these hybrid creatures to visually manifest feminine beauty as but one facet of a complex entity that also embodies power, wisdom, strength, grace, magic and even the threat of danger. In my most recent work I use the language of myth to represent intimate stories of modern feminine experience in a series that began as a process of personal catharsis and later expanded to include the cathartic explorations of other women. I asked each of my collaborators to help me create compositions expressing their personal stories informed by fable and myth. I wanted the paintings to act as both sacred space for our characters to inhabit and safe spaces for them to reveal themselves to the viewer. Photography was an invaluable tool that allowed me to combine locations and subjects that I could not physically bring into my studio. Even more, it facilitated dialogue with my collaborators, translating ideas into a useful form of visual communication.

Visually, the paintings are informed by a centuries old tradition of depicting archetypal female forms in natural spaces and in private interiors through painting. Historically, such images have been created by men to appeal to the male gaze, in the words of feminist scholar Laura Mulvey, making women “the bearer of meaning and not the maker of meaning." My paintings are created collaboratively with my subjects; the women within my compositions enter that domain with agency and consent as makers of their own meaning and narrators of their own stories. I seek to continue the tradition of storytelling using familiar visual elements while elevating the narrative content and process to examine the complexities, strengths and beauty of women today.

I deliberately place feminine beauty as a central visual element in my work to celebrate its power and to challenge the viewer to look past it in order to discover deeper emotional material and narrative content. The female subjects that are central visual elements in my compositions inhabit a sort of dream space, balanced between reality and the fantastic. They appear simultaneously bold, confident and overtly self-conscious as they engage in the struggle between the need to conform to and the desire to rebel against conventional societal pressures. 

Have your works taken on new meaning (for you or your audience) in the current political climate?

Absolutely. Whether or not it comes across to the audience, my passion for women's rights is a huge influence on my approach and content of my work. Many other political human rights and environmental rights are important to me, but as a woman those issues are closest to my heart and in my work I am always trying to give voice to the female experience. 

The paintings you create seem very involved based on the scale and attention to naturalism. What is your process like? Your studio space? 

My process varies from piece to piece, but I rely on photographic references frequently, either combining references form photographs I have taken in my travels or having an idea, elaborately creating a scene in a space with props and photographing it to work from. I frequently work from life in small paintings to stay fresh, but logistical challenges prevent me from working from life in my larger and more complex compositions. I paint in layers, starting with a colored ground, laying out the composition, blocking in the lights and shadows, and lastly painting the final work on top of those preparatory layers. 

I have had the luxury of a large studio in my home base in PA over the last 8 years, though I have also set up tiny studios in which I have created huge works while painting abroad in Central America. 

You have traveled quite a bit, including residencies abroad. How have living and working internationally affected your work?

Enormously. My experiences abroad have shaped me as a human being, given me an ever growing and deepening perspective through which to understand the complex world we live in. My travels also influence the content, scenes, and color palette of my work, and it is often my experiences abroad that give me my inspiration for my paintings. 

How do you see your paintings progressing over the next few years?

I'm about to enter the painting MFA program at the NYAA. I expect my skills to develop, as well as my content, and my relationship to my work and its content to become at once both more nuanced and stronger and more clear in its voice. I am open to great change in my work, but I am positive my work will still largely involve the female experience and exploring figuration in contemporary art. 

Do you have any upcoming exhibitions or projects you are working on?

I currently have a solo show in Williamsport, PA of my latest body of work "do not reveal me" that will end in August at Gallery 425. It is the culmination of my last year of work. As I am entering a graduate program, I did not line up any shows for this coming year, but will participate in shows and open studios at NYAA. I am also working on a 6-painting collaboration with a wonderful artist named Joanne Landis that we will show at some point once we have completed the paintings. 

What has been the most interesting or memorable reaction to your work? 

It is too hard to narrow it down to just one. I love it when people tell me their emotional reactions to my work, when a piece speaks to their soul. i have also had extremely meaningful reactions to the public art projects that I do collaboratively with communities. 

What do you love most about being an artist? 

I feel unbelievably blessed to have thus far managed to live as an artist. There are so many challenges and struggles, learning the logistics and trying to make it financially viable, and an unbelievable percentage of my time is spent not making art. But at the end of the day, I have the great fortune to dedicate my life and much of my time to the act of creation. When I am painting, I am lost in another world, I lose track of time. when I am getting ideas and talking about them with other artists, I am filled with passion and excitement and joy. When I do not have time to create for too long, I become dissatisfied, restless, stressed, and cranky. Perhaps my work is not making big changes in the world, or even helping other people much at all, but it helps me to be a better person in this world. 

Vanessa Lam

Vanessa Lam uses mixed media painting and assemblage to explore the hidden stories behind everyday objects. In her recent work, she compares the thinking process to be like “rearranging mental furniture” where shifting deep-seated beliefs are akin to physical exertion. As part of her investigation of the relationship between home and personal identity, Vanessa interprets the home as a compartmentalized reflection of ourselves. There are areas where we open up to others while other areas remain hidden. She is interested in exploring this inner realm where objects exist both in harmony and in flux. Through the process of layering and collage, Vanessa explores the tension of this relationship in her latest body of work.

Vanessa Lam lives and works in Vancouver, British Columbia as a mixed media painter. Her work was selected to be in a recent issue of Uppercase Magazine. She was also awarded first place in the 2014 Semiahmoo Arts Juried Art Exhibit. Vanessa has exhibited and sold her work at various community venues and public galleries across the city.

Art Connect Picks: Abstract Art

By Julia Mari Bernaus

The beauty of abstract art is how it allows the viewer to read their own story in the artwork. The patterns and colours chosen by the artist form thousands and thousands of different stories depending on who’s studying them. So the question is:  What do you see when you scroll through these artworks?

Loes Koomen

Loes Koomen is an Amsterdam based artist who creates striking abstract paintings through the combination of geometric patterns and saturated colors. Putting a contemporary spin on the color field movement and specifically artists such as Kenneth Noland and Morris Louis, Koomen replaces the halo effect of the earlier artists' pigment staining technique with sharp, defined edges. In this way, Koomen's paintings are a visual Tetris game, where each shape fits perfectly with the others, all within the confines of the two-dimensional picture plane. 

All images courtesy of the artist.
See additional works on her website: http://www.loeskoomen.nl/

"Loes Koomen is a very interesting example of an artist whose abstract paintings are not only very good, but who also got a lot of followers on Instagram in a very short time: almost 500 in less than two months. This is a sign that abstract painting is alive. As long as it good and as long as it is appealing to a relatively young audience. I visited her studio in Amsterdam a while ago and immediately fell in love with her hard core abstract paintings that exude the atmosphere of "Swinging London" thanks to their bright colors and at the same time are reminiscent of the Color Field painters such as Kenneth Noland and Frank Stella or even the much younger British artist Ian Davenport." - written by Manuela Klerkx
COPYRIGHT: GALLEREASE.COM AND THE ARTIST

For more information about Loes Koomen please contact:
Klerkx International Art Management
+31 (0)6 81352448
manuela@klerkxiam.com