The lively, lovely and enlivening artworks in Verve of Abstraction possess all the energy and impact you would expect from creations which reflect both the irresistible power of instinct and the carefully judged effect of artistic ability and technique. The pieces effortlessly connect us to their process of creation, and make us happy to be taken along for the ride.
Inspired by the joie de vivre of nature, Danish artist Mona Askaer’s elemental abstracts explore spontaneous primordial forces with a unique pulse, time, and place. She unites color and form to make each work feel alive and enriching. “The process starts with a few strokes of color… which shape a wordless dialog, and I become a medium for each image,” says Askaer. The universality of her work transcends borders, culture and language, for it speaks to viewers on levels that are both emotional and subliminal.
Askaer uses shade and hue to punctuate the feeling being expressed and to establish a connection with the viewer. Some linear works draw the eye to move vertically or horizontally, while others possess the attractive pull of juxtaposition that is deeply contemplative. The movement in each work takes eye and mind on a journey of discovery, a journey that entices and beckons, underscoring a deep-seated freedom of expression. These acrylics employ a unique palette of colors, complementing constructs that are expository. In total, Askaer succeeds in elevating life’s little things to greatness.
Ben Bonart is a passionate painter who began his artistic journey as a creative marketing professional. He references his art historical inspirations such as Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Jasper Johns, while putting his personal contemporary spin on these influences. Since the artist was born and raised in Washington, D.C., it is no surprise that political icons like the American flag and the peace sign have also made their way into his artwork.
Color, light and form play a large role in Bonart's work. By infusing works with a wonderful glowing warmth, he creates amplified deep space. This exaggeration is further fleshed out by his use of highly saturated color, which is not naturalistic and which draws both the eye and the attention while also intriguing the mind. Many of Bonart's works are a vision of something very close to our natural world. Yet Bonart has the ability to put a microscope over the tangible fantasy of everyday experience, making viewing each piece a unique and memorable journey.
Using bold colors and dynamic forms, American artist Stuart Burton's most recent works translate the narrative texts of the Jewish Bible into a timeless visual experience that resonates with all viewers. “The goal isn’t really to find set answers, but rather to delve deeper into the subject in order to find new questions that push past boundaries,” the artist explains. Burton has always been inspired by a lifelong curiosity about how people interweave the myths and realities of the world around them into their lives. He uses his keen aesthetic sense, bravura brushworks and impressive creativity to re-tell the stories and beliefs that are such strong parts of our history, help define our present and continue to inform our future. As his paintings in this exhibit demonstrate, Burton's abstract works translate color and composition into a narrative wherein he reinvents legends and fables into vivaciously contemporary paintings which speak universal truths.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Stuart Burton still lives and works in New York. A student of Ad Reinhardt, he has exhibited work throughout the city.
Drawing her inspiration from rooms, the city and Nordic landscapes, Camilla Carlsson’s works are haunting and austere. Her acrylic and charcoal impressions bestow an almost eerie cast over her subjects, each with its own raison d'être. “The purpose of painting is to touch and give the audience an experience. It can be a special mood, a feeling or thought that is born,” notes Carlsson. Even at first glance, one can see that each image has its own visceral power.
Carlsson’s adroit use of light and shadow with just a hint of color for emphasis suggests a studied and contemplative interpretation of each subject. Foreground and background are spatially congruent, uniting content and context in a way that invites introspection. Her proportions and compositions reveal a search for discovery that the artist frames visually. She shares feelings that go beyond words, using stark lines and subtle shapes to evoke emotion and mood. In this way, Carlsson succeeds in capturing the subject’s very essence, its soul — be it a room, a cityscape or simply a human countenance.
Bold, colorful shapes and crisp, hard lines characterize artist Michelli Cockburn’s stunning acrylic on canvas compositions. Swooping circles, waves and spirals flow through the work in recurring motifs, as rhythmic formations dominate the foreground in general. Being an artist committed to the process of trial and discovery, her canvases are an experimental space where acrylic, gel and molding paste layer and coalesce. Texture, color, nature and movement all serve as natural and intriguing elements as Michelli’s process unfolds from simple sketching toward full composition with appealing ease. Self-taught and intent on testing the limits of imagination— hers and the viewer’s — Michelli is known to accent many of her final pieces by enclosing them within a custom, hand-painted frame. Animating her trademark color black with lively primary hues inspired by her Latin and Caribbean heritage, as a series her works demonstrate the latent, limitless potential of the material facade.
Michelli Cockburn was born in Colón, Republic of Panamá. The artist holds a B.S. in Mass Communications and an M.B.A. in Healthcare Management.
A psychological depth of experience infuses each layer of Rebecca Coddington’s paintings, expressing the intense power of her creative instinct as a spiritual journey develops in paint. She works in the emotional language of color, sensually dripping and swirling her pigments in a rippling dance of complexity and control. The liquid texture of the paint vibrates with a tactile motion and energy, drawing the viewer in as they build relationships and encourage contemplation. The artist builds her works in acrylic paints on canvas, manipulating the fluidity of her medium with her own personal techniques to maintain the crisp clarity of her hues. As she fills her vividly tactile surfaces, Coddington immerses herself in the physicality of her process, ignoring the limitations of her body as she pushes past pain to follow her inspiration. For Coddington, art becomes therapy as the events and injuries of her life fuel her paintings with an inner strength and passionate presence.
Born in New England and now living in New York City, Rebecca Coddington studied at both FIT and SVA.
Estrid Maria Eriksen
Driven by a passion for color and culture, Danish artist Estrid Maria Eriksen paints with a tenacious energy for life. Bold and expressive, her paintings transform chaos into harmony, extracting meaning from maelstrom. Beginning each painting with her palette, Eriksen paints layers of color onto her canvases, patiently waiting for a composition to emerge from within her materials. The artist works in both abstract and realist idioms, dexterously utilizing elements of each style to portray her subjects with graceful agility. Eriksen blends classic, timeless landscapes with more modern and contemporary architectural themes, creating ageless, eloquent paeans to human life, of both the past and the present. “When I move in that environment, I can sense the life that is lived with all the energy and the emotions,” says Eriksen “The colors in my paintings express the energy that always pulsates in and around the building masses.” Vivaciously vibrant and elegantly enduring, these paintings articulate the story of existence with buoyant intrepidity and experimental verve.
Estrid Maria Eriksen lives and works in her native Denmark.
Blending a vivacious color palette with poetic abstraction, the paintings of American artist Terry Formyduval are fantastical articulations of energy and emotion. Laying bare his unconsciousness on his canvases, the artist expresses his experience of the world around him with an appealing and characteristic verve. Electric colors animate these works, while rich, neutral tones soothe and transcend the picture plane. Utilizing geometric shapes with pulsating, animated lines, Formyduval strives to demonstrate the totality and purity of abstract art. “Everything I do is based on emotion,” he says. “Without emotion and the freedom to explore into the subconscious art isn’t at its purest form.” Boldly and firmly embracing his individuality as an artist, Formyduval's paintings transport the viewer into a space of tranquil beauty. Pushing the bounds of abstraction, the works enter the realms of the extraordinary. Alluring and intoxicating, these paintings explore unconsciousness as it takes shape in visual form.
A native of North Carolina, where he still lives and works, Terry Formyduval is a lifelong artist.
Aimee Gillen’s highly sophisticated acrylic and glass pieces meld organic forms with unbelievable color. Her works are sensual two-dimensional pieces painted on canvases several feet across. Because her materials can be alternately very thin or thick, Gillen is able to express a physicality that can change in dynamic several times over the course of one piece. The pieces are largely abstract, with some series featuring stylized figures. Many contain tantalizing hints of recognizable organic or human forms. But mainly the work is about rich, almost impossible color and complex organization. Gillen practically constructs her compositions, they are so layered; her shapes surround, envelop, and fold in on each other, taking unanticipated turns and hanging element on top of element. The movements are fragile and robust in turn. The palette is ambitious in its extent and simply incredible in its richness and capacity for reflecting and refracting light.
Gillen is an Irish artist who currently lives in Dublin. She has mounted several exhibitions in her home country.
Inspired by the freedom of his subconscious musings, Italian artist Gilberto Gillo’s abstracts are serendipitous works that avoid drawing on preexisting concepts. His uniquely defined acrylics on canvas juxtapose linear, angular imagery with fluid, amorphous constructs. Untethered by preconceived formats or a spatial mind’s eye template, each work can be subjectively interpreted. One can be immersed in Gillo’s varied works and still arrive at a singular conclusion: the artist connects mind to soul in ways that are unexpected. In this, the conscious mind is his canvas, and the colors and brushstrokes, his naked expression.
Gillo’s works call for lingering and careful viewing. The abstract concepts, the lines, and interpretive objects placed seemingly at random convey meanings that may at first be elusive. The work of the artist is only complete when viewer accepts what is intricately portrayed, what one feels when message takes meaning. Whether specific in form or undefined and organic, Gilberto Gillo’s body of work arouses both emotion and reaction, drawing us in and forcing us out of our preconceptions.
Artist Blandine Girerd is a natural colorist. Her acrylic on canvas works are ripe with symbolism and anchored in figurative abstraction. Inspired by hue, vibration and music, her works are full of dynamically contrasting elements and are teeming with light. Gestural and instinctive, with a pure love of materiality, Girerd’s process incorporates the use of inks, scratching and collage for textural variety and plentiful rhythm. Delving into fantasy realms, her compositions invite a feeling of mystery and utilize color intensity as an expressive force. Although she favors blue, particularly darker shades and turquoise, no matter the color Girerd always rides fiercely to the psychological depth of her hues. Occasionally, she creates monochromatic works, zeroing in on the capacity of one color and mining its emotional and metaphysical riches.
Blandine Girerd was born in Beaune, a town located in the Burgundy region of France. Raised by a family of artists, her childhood living off the coast of the Atlantic Ocean with her mother and grandmother, both painters, was formative. The artist currently lives and works in Besançon.
Karen Hochman Brown
Karen Hochman Brown’s mind-bending digital artwork melds nature, geometry, and sophisticated technology. In her latest series of “digital paintings,” Hochman Brown approaches one of fine art’s most enduring subjects – the flower – from a completely contemporary perspective. She uses fractal software to explore the structures of the bloom: symmetries, quirks, and the network of connections between petal, leaf, pistil, and stamen. The images, however, are not clinical or scientific but delicate, emotional, and even resplendent. The artist reaches deep into the earth to devise unique color palettes for each image, making dramatic use of luxurious yellows, greens, purples, and reds. Her flowers are presented straight on, in perfect compositional symmetry, a reference to both geometrical constructs and the mandala, with its promise of balance. The flowers themselves contain a great deal of detail but are not strictly realistic. They occupy a stylized space in which nature’s patterns and those created by humans co-exist.
Karen Hochman Brown was born in Santa Barbara, California and today lives in nearby Altadena. She is also an accomplished graphic designer who ran her own business for many years.
Utterly transporting and impossible to explain simply, Debbie Klein’s digital images are part landscape, and part abstract. Klein begins with a photograph of an ordinary building or street scene, often urban and industrial in tone. The photos are close-range and almost intimate – billboards, scaffolding, storefronts, or graffiti on a wall are all subjects, rather than a wider view of an entire edifice. The photo grounds the image in reality, but it is also faded, until it recedes. Over it, Klein introduces the abstract forms and connections that bring the image to a new plane: bright color washes, graphic shapes, negative tonal schemes, all freewheeling yet somehow intertwined with the base photo. Using sharp contrasts and fantastic layering, the artist brings dynamic movement and a sense of shifting light. The viewer is constantly questioning the truth and logic of what is being shown.
Debbie Klein was born in Ponca City, Oklahoma and currently keeps a home studio in Dallas, Texas. She considers her childhood in Connecticut and her time spent living in New York and Paris as formative periods in her life.
For artist Carlene Lavender, art is the chief means by which she expresses her Australian aboriginal heritage. Painting using the full spectrum of color but with a palette dominated by earthen hues and silky backgrounds, her works of acrylic on canvas bridge forgotten worlds as they expand beyond the traditional bounds of historical aboriginal art and craft. As an international artist, her prismatic and highly detailed compositions convey and explore the modern diasporic experience. Animal imagery, ancient archetypal symbolism and intricate patterning abound in these visionary works which reflect matters close to the artist’s heart yet possess an open, accessible feel. With some of the soothing and mesmerizing qualities of ritual and meditative practice, many works encompass serpentine, slithering forms and radiating geometric and organic shapes. Able to harness the essence of the human connection with nature and spirit, the works speak volumes in a mysteriously familiar cross-cultural tongue.
Carlene Lavender was born in Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia and is of Australian nationality and Arabana/Central Arunta descent. She has exhibited professionally both at home and abroad.
The abstract paintings of Utah artist Lloyd Platt evoke images of rock formations, dried river beds, dust clouds and stormy skies. Platt’s canvases are rich in washes of color: bleeding reds, jasmine greens and moody blues melt into dark grays, with the occasional sharp pop of bright white. His paintings seem to glow as if illuminated from behind like stained glass — but instead of illustrating the life of a saint, Platt's images seem to tell the story of geological time, the gradual wearing away of stone under the power of a rushing stream or gusts of wind. With technical mastery, the artist alternates between hard and soft, creating a mysterious patchwork of pigments and brushstrokes that resolve themselves into images that resonate with emotion and texture, drawing the viewer in.
A former architect, Platt says many of his pieces are inspired by nature, particularly the environs surrounding the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah. Perhaps it is because of this influence that many of his paintings are reminiscent of fantastic geological formations and landscapes.
Argentinian painter Sara Rainoldi creates bold, colorful and expressive works that break apart the human body, transforming it into a symphony of abstracted forms that seem to dance in a harmony of movement. An art student at the National Institute of Arts in Buenos Aires, Rainoldi is influenced by the greats of Abstract Expressionism: Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Francis Bacon. Employing acrylic paint occasionally fortified with flour, the artist uses her painting process to escape from reality and put her feelings to canvas. With bright pigments to convey emotion and thick, impasto brushstrokes to guide the viewer’s eye across the composition, someone standing in front of one of these artworks can’t help but sense Rainoldi’s state of mind at the time of its creation.
Despite the fact that these paintings are largely abstract, the organic forms populating the canvases give one the sense of hidden shapes and layers of meaning, occasionally with an arm, leg or shoulder peeking out from the flurry of energetic brushstrokes. Rainoldi hopes that her work will resonate in the lives of her viewers.
Symbols are at the center of Svetlana Romanova’s artistic creativity. “The aim of my creative efforts,” she says, “is to record the experience of inner vision and ready thought-forms.” The artist’s paintings bring her inner vision to life, turning the symbols and shapes she puts on canvas into brightly colored abstract patterns, with a graphic power that gives them a strong physical presence. Using a vocabulary of simple forms, Romanova creates a complex body of work, finding infinite variety in triangles, squares, floral shapes and curves, and arranging them in a way that places each in an unexpected light. Her sense of scale and proportion, along with her ability to frame each image for maximum impact, results in works with an energizing sense of freedom and activity.
Working in oils, Romanova uses the deep colors they provide to strong effect. Those bold hues, when combined with the sharpness of every shape and form, give each painting a multi-layered effect. The resulting surface energy contrasts with the elegance of the compositions to produce a unique, provocative experience for the viewer.
The multimedia paintings of Juan Carlos Ibañez Torres capture all the mystery and irrepressible energy contained in the human body. Working in different combinations of acrylic, oil, chalk, and beads, Torres aims to create portraits that incorporate both symbols and synesthesia. His subject is the human figure, which he portrays in stylized, neon-colored silhouette. His people appear alone and in groups, their relationships undefined but unambiguously meaningful. Their heads and bodies are little more than evocative shapes fitted together, but there is great power in the colors and gestural lines that emit from them. Torres then creates highly dynamic environments for these figures. The energy relies on the saturated color palette, which can vacillate from bright to darkly murky but is consistently surreal. Torres also displays a remarkable range of technique, with paint expertly scraped, flattened, and modulated to conjure different textures and even different levels of two- and three-dimensionality.
Torres was born in El Carmen de Bolivar, Colombia and today lives in Sincelejo, Colombia. He has exhibited across his home country.
As sweeping curves and organic forms inspired by folk art develop under her varied brushstrokes, Dora Votin paints with an intuitive freedom, changing the style and nature of her mark as her inspiration guides her. Referencing the traditions of her heritage, Votin manifests shapes through an atmospheric fog of intricate lines and texture, visually creating a veil between past and present. The artist also paints with a sweeping hand on an expanse of white, focusing her works on a single or pair of pigments as she immerses herself into the physical presence and experience of her medium, vividly enveloping the senses as she opens thresholds of a higher reality. Working in oil paints on canvas, Votin smoothly moves between loose abstraction and more structured design, powerfully expressing her inner thoughts and emotions in pure aesthetic movement.
Born and raised in Budapest, Hungary, where she now lives on the city’s outskirts in Budaörs, Votin’s art is powerfully influenced by the rich history and culture of her homeland, which infuses her archetypal imagery with a deep emotional connection and sense of place.