The interminable days of the pandemic gave Roz Dorlen time to apply her powers of scientific observation via virtuoso use of the telescope, where pictures decoded by her personal, expressive and artistic lens are realized as astronomically based luminous oil paintings of cosmic phenomena. The resulting works in “Spaces of the Cosmos, The Pandemic Series,” shown at Jadite Gallery, are no space operas, but instead glow as documents of the universe’s ceaseless drama of change – the painter finding the deeply pessimistic contagion time an opportunity for hope and growth. With the pieces creating a sense of wonder in the viewer, one might feel an eternal force moving through these pictorial celestial manifestations in human affinity with an intuitive awareness of the ethereal.
The excitement of creation is prodigiously revealed in the painting Birth II, where crashing, swirling galaxies explode in hot colors on the pieces’ starry surface; the cosmic growth emanating from enigmatic dark holes as pictorial anagrams of the mysterious act of divine conception, with energies almost physical.
Likewise, Jagged Edge reinforces this profound activity as sizzling young stars flare from the purple seminal nebula in a birthing area near our galaxy, captured by the painter with exciting brushstrokes.
Also, Dorlen’s pieces of bursting colors, A Young Hot Star, and Pillar of Fire, in the Carina spiral, provide inspirations for Birth II. The artist sees our current time as one of significant change, and she chooses this starry group to paint because besides the stars and ourselves being in great flux, the celestial phenomenon’s name, Carina, intuits an act of caring as part of creation.
Stephen’s Quintet is the painter’s interpretation of the first compact galaxy group discovered by the astronomer Edouard Stéphan, in France nineteenth century, with the five celestial entities in the Pegasus constellation. Perhaps Dorlen’s depiction of these stars is an unintentional allusion to this mythological horse, as a symbol of the soul’s immortality. This is just a personal conjecture, but this association seems possible.
The magnificent oil Galactic Fire, portraits a glorious burst of colossal energy in brilliant yellows, reminding me of pictures of Saturn’s rings. Could it be this exploding galaxy the artist depicts is an early example of a newly forming planet,
similar to vestiges of nebulae that could also have birthed Saturn? She captures the movement of galaxies in the cosmos here, underscoring the increasing rate of universe expansion, as celestial entities move away from each other.
Another example of cosmic birth can be seen in the painting, The Lobster, where a nursery for new planets, composed of gases, dust and infant stars, creates an intricate web near the Scorpius constellation – a location of electrifying celestial
objects that may contain seeds of life in some of the possibly habitable exoplanets.
But just as this artist captures acts of creation, she also exquisitely portrays cosmic stages of what we term ‘destruction’ in Cat’s Eye and Renewal and A Supernova Remnant. The former depicts the death of a star as a white dwarf, painted by the artist’s remarkable observant powers occurring repeatedly as a nova before the final black dwarf’s demise. She also dramatically reveals the bright blue remains of a supernova first seen in medieval times, its threads of white-hot light coursing through a cobalt-colored field on the painting’s surface. Both pieces concern the laws of thermodynamics where energy ultimately cannot be created or destroyed, but in contrast changes iteration.
Until now, I haven’t mentioned that Roz Dorlen is also a practicing psychologist who, in addition to her vocation of healing the human psyche, continuously examines the heavens from her personal telescopic vantage point as an amateur astronomer. In this series of paintings, one titled Double Helix, she muses about the very distant exploding stars and cosmic dust and ponders if they be may be duplications of genetic structures, such as DNA. A question might be posed of whether nuclei acids originate in space and also what relationships cosmic entities have to gene-editing, opening discussions about the ethics of BANG Converging Technologies and CRISPR, among other daunting topics Roz Dorlen visits for our attention.
Although the pandemic has presented most of us with a time of isolation from others, it also fostered the opportunity for great creative expression. The artist has used this time carefully and marvelously, examining the boundless sky, dramatically documenting and interpreting its immense beauty and mystique, connecting us with energies beyond the scope of our human comprehensions. Her past year’s basic parameters for living may have been truncated but her ability to express the magnificence of the infinite, beyond the physical real, is ultimately limitless and inscrutable.
So, through the profound art of Roz Dorlen, we are engaged in cosmic phenomena in almost overwhelming ways.