When we dream, we visit landscapes of the inner life, the unconscious world beneath our mundane exteriors, opening us to the elusive, fantastic realm that has always been documented by the artist’s hand. In the exhibit, “Dreams,” the artists visit this subliminal place, in a varied show strong with vibrant color, texture and energy.
Virginia Donovan’s artistic study of nature influences her meditative, visionary images in her acrylic paintings in this show. “Awakening” depicts an almost embryonic form quickening in sweeping swirls of yellow lights over violet. In “Enveloping,” a blue palette and scumbled brushwork draw the viewer’s eye deep into a consuming mental visualization. Both paintings employ airy color, creating a feeling of freshness as if Donovan had transferred her plein air sensibility to these interior pieces.
Collaged photo and sketch fragments peak through Catherine Gerasimov’s mixed media pieces, expressive of a vibrant inner life. The artist continues her experimentation with layering of paint and applied parts of her own history to create surfaces of dynamic movement through the energetic brushwork. Her palette is very selective and her use of paint, strategically dripped on the picture’s ground, almost feels like musical notation in its lyrical application.
Mary Ann Glass applies encaustic with geometric forms in her work where the surfaces diffuse light and color contrasting with the subtle, photographic abstracts embedded and floating through the pieces. She opens the viewer to the unconscious world where the work’s surface luminosities transport physical presence into a transcendent realm. Light pulses and shimmers off the pieces and I am reminded of Rothko’s paintings in this aspect.
Kathryn Hart, in her mixed media piece, “Lunar Face,” constructs a dramatic three dimensional entity on the anchoring picture plane. The painted surface textile is torn as if exposing wounds below the surface. It is a bleak piece, evoking a feeling of the desolate lunar landscape. Hart tears away at conventional reality, just as the beautiful luster of the moon, belies the barren, lifeless object that it truly is.
Classical depictions of women are found in Galina Krasskova’s figurative abstract paintings. Emotive, spontaneous brushstrokes, where the inner character of the forms is brought to the surface, charge the work with palpable vitality. The use of bright cadmium yellow on the upper back and shoulder of “Seated Aphrodite,” breathes life into this seated beauty animating the darker colors.
Iwona Kulagowska in her mixed media works brings the suggestion of human narratives to paintings that might otherwise be characterized as mundane portrayals of a boarded building wall and an urban alleyway. An impression or reflection of a door or portal brings the viewer into “Obraz 2” where one is invited to enter a dimension beyond the picture plane. In “Obraz 1,´three pieces of washing on a line, perhaps belonging to a child, bring a somewhat wistful, melancholy feel to the work due to the muted color scheme.
Central Park’s vegetation seems to rise up growing and greening the city in curator, Basha Maryanska’s expressionistic acrylic, “Spring in Central Park.” The painting’s execution possesses some of the whimsy of Klee’s work as the early shoots of plantings overwhelm the buildings intimated in a flattened ground. White lines, drawn to delineate fleeting figures, turn the otherwise abstract painting, “Walking Shadows,” into a scenario of people jostling and crowding out each other as they move along the city street. In both these paintings, Maryanska suggests the timbre of the city through her restrained, accomplished artistry.
Joanna Owidzkas’s organic, wall hangings combine the folk traditions found in the fiber arts of Eastern Europe, with modern, geometric abstract forms. Her textile “Sunbeam,” is quite striking for its use of light yellow fiber woven as an illumination of sunlight rising at the top of the piece. The glow of the yellow and white threads shines down on the rest of the woven composition, creating an art work of great luminescence. This work provides this viewer a powerful visualization of universal light bathing the natural world, creating an ethereal experience.
Maurice Perdreau’s acrylic paintings are alive with amply textured surfaces. In one of his compositions, the artist allows a burlap cloth ground to peek through primary colors applied to the surface directly from the tube. There is a plethora of dynamic energy in his work resulting from his technique of thick build up of hues on the canvas. It is as if he dreamt of a conversation with Jackson Pollock and then awoke to expand on the dialogue.
Anna Pietruszka divides her untitled oils between subtle grays on half of the canvases, juxtaposed with textured riots of impasto color that are the results of energetic patches of hue applied with a palette knife. She then extends grafittoed lines into the colored paint and draws it over what might be seen as the suggestion of a horizon line, unifying the contrasting brights and darks. When looking at her paintings, I am reminded of sea grass standing at the ocean’s shore, the water heavy with mist and thick fog, awaiting the approaching storm.
Agnieszka Szyfter in “Leona in Necklace,” and “In the Mirror,” depicts the same woman in profile, seen in different moods and attitudes. One, a singular profile, is reminiscent of medieval Ladies of the Court, where although the artist uses bold color, the rendering is serene due to the sinuous line work defining the outline. “In the Mirror,” is fantastical, where the lady is both dressed and nude. Again, the face is calm in mirror image but both figures sport headdresses of serpentine decoration, helmet-like as if they were warrior goddesses, showing us a strong, sexual woman, but vulnerable beneath the surface.
Elaine Weiner-Reed always examines deep emotional undercurrents and she does so here in this show. In her piece, “Nightwatch,” the artist reinterprets Rembrandt’s militiamen, transformed into a portrait of underlying anxieties, slammed into the viewer’s psyche. Weiner-Reed’s use of chiaroscuro, umbers and reds in her painting, along with string adhesions dripping as jumbled, frenetic lines on the picture’s surface allude to Rembrandt’s masterpiece by demonstrating great movement and tension in the composition’s forms.
The artists in this show all explored the territory lying beneath the surface through evocative, textured, dramatic work, connecting the viewer with the inner world, allowing thought and emotion to consciously bring the imagination forward. Here, the artists’ dreams and thoughts are consummately realized.