Friday, December 2nd, 6:00pm-10:00pm Eonta Space
Sat., Dec. 3rd, 4-8pm Sun. Dec. 4th, 2-6pm
As sentient beings we use our brains constantly on many levels. In addition to navigating our environment, as in trying to avoid tripping over things (or our feet), we are continuously parsing information in an attempt to understand and protect ourselves from harm, from potential emotional damage, to feel a sense of mastery, calm and as part of our ceaseless mission to find experiences that spark the pleasure centers of the mind. It is the same within the art world. The need to contain, categorize and explain. All the ‘-isms’, currently unfashionable, are attempts to gather, understand and also package and market groups of artists work. It is also an attempt by the intelligentsia and the media to codify something that can rarely be codified. The mental/physical experience inherent in the act of creation, its consequences and the everlasting need to label. Or as Donald Judd once tartly opined, ‘Instead of thinking about each person’s work, critics invent labels to pad their irrelevant discourse’.
AF/FA or Abstract/Figurative - Figurative/Abstract, features work that moves back and forth between the descriptions cited. The title of the show uses words that are understandable and reasonable and yet looking at the work they provoke a dialogue, or quadralogue between what we are seeing, how we describe what we are seeing and what our brains do with the words our brains choose to describe the work before us.
ALPANA MITTAL is showing a large group of meticulously crafted panels made using plastic Perler beads, also called Hama beads (in Japan) or melty beads. Except rather than make ‘pictures’ she places them in vast geometric arrangements that spark and fire the mind and unlike the toy, she refrains from melting them. She has taken the child’s toy and upended it. Instead the panels are evocative of textile design, block printing, tablecloths, and other quotidian patterns. Together they create a complex world of arrangements, perhaps pixels or binary coding, that fills them with energy and power.
CHRISTOPHER SEARS here shows paintings that hint at the energy at work in his mind. They appear to be portraits but their swirls of color create vortexes that border on the abstract. Are they portraits of living, recognizable people or just approximations of an interior reality? Regardless they straddle the line between figuration and abstraction with a grace that is timeless. They are also a testament to his other creative endeavors as songwriter, actor and performer.
CHUCK NITZBERG shows two primary approaches to figurative work. In the first, broad sweeps of gestured color create backgrounds of sharply seen portraits of men painted from life. The second group are nude life models posing where the resultant drawing is covered, the areas of skin only, in sticking plasters in a range of skin tones. These erotic images are mysterious. Does the use of the sticking plaster, traditionally used to aid the healing of wounds to the body, denote care or repulsion? Or are they a flesh-colored antiseptic barrier between us and the naked men living beyond in a private, reserved world? The result is pointillist or expressionist in feeling, somehow provoking the desire to touch the sanitized tape and padded surface to explore the nakedness hidden beneath the mottled surface.
KUBRA ADA is a master of marbling. Her appreciation of the traditional art of Ebru, Turkish marbling which launched the technique from Central Asia to the world, deepens with practice. Her abstract patterns and more realistic flowers are technique driven. The constraint being that the paint is held in suspension over thickened water and only certain movements and aids can create a desirable image. It is painstaking work with an incredible WOW moment when the paper is placed on the surface of the water to absorb the paint and create the image. Similar to the making of a photograph it is an alchemical process using gum tragacanth and ox gall to create the correct surface tensions to make images possible. The beauty, subtlety and world of color shown here celebrate Kubra’s expert control over the medium.
So what is Abstract and what is Figurative? You get to decide. It is merely a starting point for a discussion or even the point where you throw your hands up in despair and walk away. Maybe now is the moment when we discard labels altogether? The work here deepens our understanding of the interior mind, the compulsion to create regardless of where in the world the work will find itself and celebrates beauty, form, line and color in excitingly inventive ways both innovative and traditional.
contact lauren farber
@ your discretion
Phone: (201) 536-1119