Posts Tagged ‘Review’

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Eric Roux-Rontaine at Axelle Fine Art

November 15, 2012

Last Saturday evening, I walked into Axelle Fine Art and arrived in the land of my dreams.

Eric Roux-Fontaine channels the primeval world of the Meso-American jungle. You understand with every brush stroke that this is his world. If you’ve ever walked through dense tropical treelands, you know that vegetation grows in layers. Some trees are extremely tall with branches only at their tops, providing a canopy over the forest. Others are shorter and wider, surrounded by flowering bushes, filled with birds and butterflies. Now, add to this wonder world a touch of modern whimsy – a pristine white tent, or a tightrope walker, or a bridge going nowhere, or (my favorite) the swimming pool in the middle of a swamp. So perhaps what we really have is Alice in Wonderland in the Costa Rican jungle instead of the English countryside.

This is the world that Roux-Fontaine lives and breathes – even though he lives with his wife and children in Lyon, France. (I can attest to his wife’s being absolutely charming.)

Having seen the paintings on his web site, it’s clear that the whimsical touches are pervasive elements of his work, tying the concrete elemonts of our society to a purer, freer, uncontaminated one.

What is most interesting is the delicacy of Roux-Fontaine’s paintings. His paint is thinned, his brush work is fine, his colors are delicate. He lays layer after layer of branch, leaf and brush, building to a complex, dense composition. The influence of the Chinese scroll painters is huge; they would be proud.

This is Roux-Fontaine’s first exhibit in the US. He is an extremely talented painter with an exceptional body of work. You should take the opportunity to discover his work. Axell is located 472 West Broadway (just south of Houston Street); the show is on view thrugh Dec. 2.

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Joshua Liner Gallery – Resolve Exhibition Curated by Artist Tony Curanaj

February 3, 2012

There is an amazing group show at the Joshua Liner Gallery at 548 W 28 St., NYC. Artist and curator Tony Curanaj has assembled a group of 25 painters, sculptors and photographers. Some are well known, such as Kim Coogan and Jeff Hayman, others are not but likely will be.

The common theme is a grounding in realism and realistic training. To be included in this show, the artists’ work was required to be in the non-abstract tradition. Yes, painters and sculptors do need to know how to draw as the basis for executing their vision. This is not to say that these artists execute in the same style as their techniques range from ultra-realistic to neo-impressionist among the painters, from whimsical to realistic in sculpture, and, in photography, purely painterly.

Unique in recent shows, there are no weak pieces. Some may be disturbing, such as the butchered cow’s head, that one can’t imagine living with but that is still excellently rendered or Jeff Hayman’s photos of human skulls (living with bones might be a problem for some, including me). Other than the cow’s head, every piece is something that speaks to an individual, that they can buy and live with. I can see these pieces in museum collections but not as corporate art.

Highlights:

Jacob Collins – Interior III – a wonderfully moody oil of a painting filled interior, beautifully dreamed, hazily textured and lovingly rendered

Kim Coogan – American Dream – another of his beautiful urban oil paintings capturing a bit of a city at night

Tony Curanaj – Perched – the most beautiful little blue bird, oil on panel. He’s so warmly executed in ultra-realistic style that you expect him to fly onto your finger.

Jacob Pfeiffer – Nesting – a whimsical and amusing red origami bird brooding quite a collection of eggs presented via oil on panel.

Travis Schlaht – Anticipation – the baby canary learning to fly is an utterly entrancing oil on canvas

Jefferson Hayman – Torn Painting- it’s hard to believe this is a photograph, even though the subject is an old master ripped by a fork lift. You can almost see the brushstrokes and feel the despair of the museum curator.

Christopher Gallego – Studio Interior –you can feel the empty room with its texture and detail awaiting both the housepainter and artist with his canvas and oils.

This exhibition is open through February 25. I highly recommend it and am delighted to discover another group of artists to follow.  Wish I could have included more pictures.

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Group Show – New & Established Artists at Skylight Gallery

February 2, 2012

Nanoscape

The January show is Carla Goldberg’s window for presenting artists who aren’t part of her regular stable. The constraint this year is that each piece had to be less than 30” and ach artist was restricted to two pieces.

The best of the best:

Carol Flaitz – Carol is an experienced and well known artist who exhibits regularly overseas and upstate, About a year ago, Carol started working with encaustic. Challenged by the medium, her work is different from other encaustic paintings. Principally, she deliberately uses the wax medium to create seemingly flat surfaces which are actually three-dimensional.

Carol’s work is inspired by very serious computer research but could equally well be grounded in astrophysical or submarine science. In her piece, Nanoscape, she has constructed a world of texture and color with life force. You can imagine the structures flowing and erupting from an underground source. This is a powerful piece which becomes more enticing as you study it – structure, color, flow, texture.

Nanoscape II is cooler and more contained. Instead of bursting forth, it’s about striation and leveling, very fissile and simultaneously watery. Again, an exciting painting grounded in opposites.

Carla Goldberg – Yes, herself. Carla presented earlier pieces which show how she developed her current style. These two pieces used canvas as the base for the paint, upon which she poured resin and added fibers. I still prefer the newer work but it’s most interesting to see how an artist develops.

Carla’s newer work is purely abstract but maintains her interest in water, texture and color through water. She has distilled her interests to their essence. In these older paintings, the same ideas are present but require a more physical manifestation.

Once again, being only able to post one image, I’ve chosen Nanoscape.

No rude comments about the rest but they weren’t up to the levels set by Carol and Carla. If you ask nicely, I’ll tell you the worst.

The show is up through Feb. 18. Skylight Gallery is located at 538 W 29 St., NYC.

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JONGWANG LEE AT SUSAN ELEY FINE ART

October 12, 2011

Resurrection

Ecstasy

Nirvana iii

Resin paintings seem to be in fashion nowadays. Understandable since they provide a liquidly immersive experience different from other mediums.

Jongwang Lee has been in New York for the past 15 years, painting at his studio in Long Island City. He is ethnically Korean but was raised in Tokyo so he uses the influences from three cultures in his work.

Lee’s work is all about depth; nothing is on the surface. Using a painstaking process he layers clear or colored resin, adds a painted element, layers more resin and so forth until the piece is done. He achieves stunning luminosity.

This show included abstract paintings, ethnically focused pieces and an entire series of portraits of Abraham Lincoln with a variety of eye colors. Curiously, this caused great debate. No one knew which were historically accurate. Courtesy of Lincoln himself. the answer is … grey, the one color not used.

But back to technique. Lee uses stretched canvas as the base for his paintings. In his most recent work, the canvas faces forward, as we most usually would expect. Even in these, there are many, many layers of resin and paint. We have two examples: Nirvana III (one of the ethnic pieces) and Resurrection, an abstract. In Nirvana III, you have an excellent descriptor of Lee’s technique: swathes of transparent color, and oil details, all layered with intervening levels of resin to achieve depth and draw your attention further into the piece. There is somehow greater clarity using this method.

The older work has the canvas in the rear, using the wooden frame as a basin holding the resin. Ecstasy is the best example of this process. Fortunately, Lee used yellow so that the detail of his technique is clear. You not only see the clear resin bubbles and the paint (affected of course by the color of the resin) you also see the depth and shape of the framing. This piece is at least ¾ of an inch thick, so imagine the number of layers and the hours of work involved.

In all honesty, I’m not sure that I like this body of work, but I’m fascinated by the process. Lee has started a dialogue and I’m curious where he goes with it.

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Dr. Jorge-Luis Maeso Madronero at Skylight Gallery NYC

August 19, 2011

There’s very little as interesting as watching the creative process in action. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about astrophysics or art, the process whereby something new and inventive emerges is simply fascinating. Luckily for all of us, Dr. Maeso’s current exhibit at Skylight provides a window into this process.

You wouldn’t know it from his name, but Dr. Maeso is a German painter, one of a group of five close friends, all artists, who live in close proximity and who work influences each other. His parents moved the family from Spain to Germany in the early 1950’s; he is the proud product of both cultures.

Normally, he works in traditional methods and media, oil or acrylic on canvas. One day, he had a brainstorm. What would be the results if he tried working in pure pigment? The issues: how to make the pigment adhere, how to create texture, how to create depth? Time to experiment.

As he described it to us, here is the process. First, he puts a layer of adhesive as a ground. Then he shakes, pours, tosses the powdered pigment onto the adhesive surface. But that’s not nuanced enough so then he sprays water onto his painting and moves it around to see how the water runs off and affects the pigmented areas. Better – more interesting but adhesion can still be a problem on some pieces. What’s the best way to make something stick to glue – add weight, of course. In this case, Dr. Maeso turns the pieces over and walks on them! Every step in the process is a discovery.

The results are glorious, superb paintings with color, texture and dimensions you’ll see if you’re lucky enough to see this show before it closes at the end of August. Here are nuances to look for:

The black painting entitled Oscuro was influenced by Caravaggio who used darkness to create light.

In the orange painting, Gitana, the brilliant cobalt provides dimension because the pigment adhered as nodules and didn’t diffuse into the base color.

The green painting, entitled Mosque, continues the theme of darkness leading to light in a peaceful way while the blue painting, entitled Mar, uses darkness in a somewhat bleak way.

Dr. Maeso’s creative experiment is a success; each of these paintings is superb in its own right. As a group, they are powerful and simply excellent.

Alas, he is now returning to traditional methods having done 20 of these pigment paintings.

But do try to see the originals. It’s well worth your time. Skylight Gallery is on W29 St. between 10tth and 11th Avenues.

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Group Show at Susan Eley Fine Art

May 11, 2011

Last week, Susan Eley opened a show with work by six American artists. The idea was proposed to her by Amber George, one of the artists, and the curator of the show. The concept was “drawing in painting”. All of the work was excellent with not a single weak piece. Most interesting since Amber did not know all the participants when Susan agreed to the show.

Fortunately, four of the artists were there so we were able to spend quite a lot of time with them. Equally fortunately, three of the artists work in encaustic, a medium that seems to be growing in popularity among artists. Our curiosity was piqued. Being peppered with questions by two of us kept the artists on their toes.

Amber George is a California artist. She received her BA in Fine Art from the University of California. She has been showing professionally since 2004, principally in California but also in New York, Massachusetts and the southwest. The question that started the discussion with Amber was: “why did you choose to work in encaustic?”

Amber told us that she had previously worked in acrylic but, to her mind, something was lacking. She simply wasn’t happy painting and felt that her work was flat, missing a key element. She took a course in encaustic out of curiousity and found that missing ‘something’. Amber’s paintings have two key characteristics: their colors are intense and the painting are exceptionally glossy.

Normal encaustic is a mixture of beeswax and damar varnish. The varnish melts at a higher temperature than the beeswax so it makes the painting more durable and less likely to rot in hot climates. But the mixture has a native milkiness and the shine more satiny than glossy. Amber experimented with different substances until finding carnauba wax, which enhances the clarity of the wax, maintains its hardness and polishes to a glossy shine. Amber likes to layer objects into her paintings. These may be print, may be drawings, may inlude layers and textures, or may be something else altogether. Sometimes she’ll use oil paint, which adheres well to encaustic and is then sealed by additional layers of the wax mixture. She chooses intense and sometimes unusual colors and keeps her images slightly unbalanced for interest level. Amber’s work is excusively abstract, inspired by nature and her grandmother’s sewing styles (spur of the moment and structured. She generates intense emotional connection in her work; individually and collectively, they are energizing, contemplative and commanding. Excellent work.

Maria O’Malley is also a California artist. She received a BFA in Painting and Drawing from California State University at Fullerton. She has been showing professionally since 1996, exclusively within California. The Susan Eley show is herfirst foray outside California.

Maria has developed a technique in which her drawings float within the encaustic medium. She is something of a sculptor as well. First, Maria lays down base layers of encaustic. she then drawns using graphite pencils or conte crayons, a layer of caustic, additional drawing, more encaustic and so forth. In this way, she creates depth. At the same time, she creates texture by carving away layers of wax and coloring material.

Her work is additionally unqie in that Maria uses three tonalities of wax: white, bleached and natural, using their differences in tone to magnify the depth of her images. Maria’s paintings are delicate and most appealing, decidedly drawing and painting combined.

Audrey Phillips is a Florida resident these days. She received a BFA from the University of Florids. She has shown in both galleries and museums in the sotheast , New Mexico and California.

Audrey is an emotional artist, deliberately working quickly and making decisions on feelings as the work develops. She frequently embeds printed material in her work. She’ll also grab a brush, load it with paint and treat it as a crayon, drawing and reacting as she goes.

With an extremely ebullient personality, Audrey’s acrylic paintings reflects this charaacteristic. Her work is spontaneous and highly emotive, eliciting corresponding reactions. We were curious why Audrey didn’t bring any of her encaustic paintings to this show, given the weighting to encaustic. Her answer: “the feelings of these paintings [the ones being shown at Susan Eley] seemed right”. Her feelings were on target.

Lisa Pressman is a New York area artist. She received a BA in Fine Arts from Rutgers University. Originally, she was a sculptor. Realizing her preference for painting, Lisa retrained and was awarded an MFA in Painting from Bard College. Lisa has held workshops in encaustic painting at several venues in New Jersey. She has been showing professionally since 1991.

Pressman works in a variety of media – oil, oil paint stick, and encaustic. In this show, she included encaustic and oil paintings. If working in encaustic, she uses the medium to seal her paint stick drawing, layering medium, printed material and color to create fogginess as well as crispness. Her paintings require time to see the complexity of layering. They are works in time as well as physical dimension. In some, the top layer was taped off and an extra layer of encaustic was added to further the dimensionality. Effectively, Pressman has floated layers of color bursts within a solid.

Pressman’s oils are unmistakably hers, using the same drawing and painting techniques. The difference is the absence of the misty quality of unpigmented encaustic.

Fascinating how three people used the same medium in such different ways: Amber George with her intensity of color and absence of non-color, Maria O’Malley with her gradations of tonality, and Lisa Pressman with her floating layers.

David Kidd and Chase Langford weren’t available for grilling, unfortunately. Kidd’s abstract acrylic paintings are simply wonderful with their textures and colors. Langford’s carefully crafted mosaic-like paintings certainly are appealing. My preference I for Kidd’s strong statements.

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Pulse NYC 2011

April 5, 2011

 

 

 

 

Paul Villinski – Fable

David Antonio Cruz – Dorothy Get Off My Chair

Christine Hiebert – Untitled (10.63)

Three or four art fairs in two days – everything begins to blur. As I recall, Pulse was the show for adults with paintings, sculpture and photography for people who had developed their taste in art beyond Hello Kitty, beyond comic book drawings – or what do we call them now, graphic novels? Still, this wasn’t the show for artistic revelations, beyond a piece or two.. Perhaps there are simply too many shows, with good, interesting art spread too thinly especially since work is again selling.

As always, there was an outstanding gallery booth. This year it was Morgan Lehman. They curated this year’s presentation very carefully as there wasn’t a single weak piece. Paul Villinski’s sculpture “Fable” was singularly elegant and outstanding.

Also wonderful at Morgan Lehman were Laura Ball’s and Emily Clark’s watercolors.

It was exciting to again see Matthias Meyer’s paintings at Galerie Andreas Binder, one of only a few German galleries this year. Meyer’s abstractions of landscapes with their zen-like ambiguity and beautiful colors are quite special. I don’t understand the gallery’s reference to this work being just short of kitsch. Meyer’s unique quality of imbuing dreams with reality is compelling and certainly not cute. His work is compelling with a wonderful quality of otherworldliness.

Gallery Joe showed a special piece by Christine Hiebert. Not a fan of drawing in general, I’m a fan of Hiebert’s charcoal and ink pieces. Hiebert is a Swiss-born artist, trained in the US. She has shown extensively and is in many museum collections. Hiebert’s work is this year’s revelation.

The final outstanding work was by David Antonio Cruz, showing at Praxis International Art. His pieces are ebullient and bouncy, and just simply fun.