With both the appeal of personal expression and the universal applicability that makes something easily accessible, the art of The Substance of Form plays with our ideas about what we expect to see, and gently encourages us both to see more deeply and to appreciate our expanded perspective.
Lisa Azzano’s white clay and porcelain sculptures are often only a foot high, yet they contain a world of mystery, narrative, and emotion. Azzano creates contemplative pieces which often center on the female figure, frequently with wings, as guardian angels or fairy spirits. These women appear alone, writing, or cradling a child. Their gentle confidence and open postures radiate a natural harmony, drawing people in to notice even more detail and delicateness. Azzano references Victorian imagery in the figures’ gauzy dresses and innate, traditionally feminine grace, yet the sculptures themselves present a beguiling timelessness. The same quality can be found in her other subjects, such as lions. The forms Azzano presents are not figures of the past, present or future, but rather what one might call the physical expression of traditional archetypes.
Lisa Azzano was born in Ontario, Canada and today lives in British Columbia. She has traveled widely across Europe and the East, collecting inspiration, and has had her work displayed as far away as South Africa.
Marc Cirujeda’s full color panoramic photographs explore the interpenetrating realms of light, shadow, texture, shape and hue. Printed on rigid substrates such as PVC or Dibond, his unique method generates the vivid color spectrum and semi-distortion or “glass effect” by which the works are best characterized. Volume, color and sharpness abound in Cirujeda’s expertly composed nature landscapes. Able to transmit the sublime panoramic scope and subtle energetic essence of each locale with ease, this is an artist who works almost as if under a spell. Deeply enchanted by his subject matter, he is able to draw from it a wondrous hyper-reality which is preserved in his work. Large in scale and printed for maximum visual appeal, Cirujeda’s unique approach to contemporary landscape results in images with numerous layers and details for the viewer to behold.
Marc Cirujeda was born in Sabadell, Barcelona, where he still resides when not living the nomadic lifestyle that best serves his artistic work. A practicing photographer since 1992, he has received numerous honors and recognitions for his work.
Influenced by his travels throughout Polynesia, Barry Dabb’s recent paintings explore the nature of the cultivated, tropical garden. While the lush, verdant foliage may be seen to pay homage to a ‘natural wild’ the presence of species that are often not indigenous to a particular place allows for a critical engagement with issues of colonisation and cultural assimilation. Dabb draws his imagery from photographs taken on site and builds his paintings in oil on canvas with a smooth and considered motion. The naturalistic treatment of colour and light thus celebrates the life and richness of these cultivated environments while alluding to the passage of time, both through the physicality of the painting process and the development and adjustment of the Island Nations these gardens represent.
Born in New Zealand, where he currently lives and works in Tauranga, Dabb graduated from Auckland University with a BA majoring in Art History and Anthropology and from Auckland Secondary Teachers College with a Diploma in Teaching in Visual Arts.
A majestic opulence characterizes the work of Indian artist Siddhartha Dhamankar. Looking to the innate elegance of the natural world for his subject, Dhamankar paints landscapes and architecture with a soulful veracity of theme. Studying his native India with an astute eye for nuance, the artist portrays grand vistas with a remarkable resplendence and grace. He incorporates vestiges of aged manmade structures into his paintings, suggesting the magic of the past is alive today. With careful brushwork, Dhamankar paints with a poetic lyricism that imbues his realistic compositions with an expressive sense of wonder. A palette of rich earth tones distinguishes these paintings, which are animated by a sure understanding of color and hue. “My landscapes strive to capture the sites that have evoked emotions in me that cannot be expressed in any other manner than a painting,” says Dhamankar. “If a finished painting brings back memories of the sounds and feelings experienced while on location, I consider it a good validation for my artwork.”
Siddhartha Dhamankar lives and works in Chicago and Mumbai.
Australian artist Glenis Dobe finds inspiration in the colors and textures of the Great Barrier Reef. The fish, corals and other marine life Dobe captures appear nearly as vibrantly alive as they must while diving amongst the coral. The artist says she started painting the Great Barrier Reef in order to enable people from all over the world to know and appreciate its natural splendor, something she finds mesmerizing and beautiful. To convey the same feeling of hypnotic, peaceful enchantment to her viewers, Dobe paints with an eye toward describing detail and texture. This is balanced by her quick, expressive brushstrokes and brilliant pigments. From the bold stripes of a fish, to the sandpaper texture of volcanic rock, the fluttery fins of a leafy seadragon or the spectral lights of a jellyfish, Dobe builds up a world that viewers feel as if they can reach out and touch.
A self-taught artist, Glenis Dobe credits her father with inspiring her to take up painting, and hopes that she can inspire future generations to do the same.
Malin Forsberg likes to work through ideas with her hands - pushing, pulling and tinkering with clay until a new being emerges. Her carefully crafted and glazed figures unfold playfully like ghoulish specimens, vessels, or alien botanical species. Yet there is an intriguing ambiguity, suggesting that there is more to each piece than meets the eye. The same can be said of her attractive acrylic works, whose initial impression is one of an appealing simplicity, yet which reward further attention with layers of meaning and emotion. The result is a series of artworks which encourages the viewer to both enjoy and analyze, to look beneath the surface to consider what might lie within.
The duality of play and danger, good and evil, and the conflation of childlike and adult subject matter she employs align Forsberg’s work with the history of oral storytelling, and notably the tradition of fairy tales. Almost like a dream, these works leave the viewer to contemplate the variety and richness of human experience – becoming a mirror into the hope of genesis, in all its complexity.
Driven by a desire to find and describe beauty within her camera lens, Ukrainian-born artist Olga Grinblat creates photographs that arrest the inherent poetry of the world around us. Whether focusing on natural wonders, still lifes or more abstract themes, Grinblat distills a vivid exquisiteness from her subjects. A sensitive, careful eye for minutiae is evident in these works, as subtle details converge and mingle with bright colors and elegant angles. Seeing her subject, the artist imagines her composition before closing her camera’s shutter and capturing her image. Her passionate expertise with her medium is evident in her embrace of clear edges and highly saturated tones. Endeavoring to tell a story in her photographs, Grinblat incorporates narrative elements in her compositions which imbue her works with mystery and intrigue. “I believe that photography can be a whole story of a single moment, which will never be the same again,” she explains. Grinblat travels the globe in search of her subjects, photographing the unexpected or the unexplained with breathtaking verve and accuracy.
Olga Grinblat lives and works in Dubai, UAE.
Julia Kappenman’s highly personal acrylic paintings explore what it means to be moving forward in the modern world. Kappenman uses vivid colors, text, and extraordinarily expressive human figures to bring her thoughts and actual experiences to life on the canvas.
Her pieces often depict a particularly intense moment in time, with a person caught in a vital act or gesture. The figures in these paintings speak physically, sometimes bursting with emotion and sometimes showing all their vulnerability with a single gentle shift in stance. Their faces, where Kappenman shows her eye for nuance and chiaroscuro shadow-work, are equally important. Though they are not photorealistic, the figures succeed in expressing emotions that leap off the page. And Kappenman often goes beyond the visual, effective as it is. She floats symbols, related imagery, and even words around her main subjects, literalizing their thoughts and pushing the line between real and surreal.
Kappenman was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, where she continues to live today. She is also accomplished in watercolor, pastel, oil, gouache, pencil, and charcoal.
Filled with a purity of emotion and an elegant sensitivity to color and form, Sera Kodama’s paintings celebrate the act of discovery and creation with an emphasis on happiness and harmony. With their vividly bright and lively scenes, Kodama’s art brims with a whimsical joy and innocence, as her curious characters engage viewers in their appealingly fresh narratives. The paintings’ vividly embellished imagery is visually inspired by the artist’s travels through Mexico, and contains an appealing childlike wonder for the natural and spiritual world. Kodama creates her works in acrylic paints on paper, pairing wide expanses of bright pigments with smooth and considered brushstrokes to condense and flatten space along a two-dimensional plane as she draws on the cultural influences of traditional and contemporary Japanese art.
Born in Tokyo, Japan and now living in nearby Saitama-ken, Sera Kodama studied at Tama Art University in the Department of Graphic Design. In addition to exhibiting her art in Tokyo to wide acclaim, she has published several titles and has built a successful career in illustration and graphic design.
Inspired by the natural beauty of Minnesota and Ontario, photographer and wilderness traveler Mel Leach will immerse himself in a location for days at a time, waiting patiently for just the right moment. “I try to inspire people to get away from the everyday, continuously-connected world… to connect to something permanent and beautiful in the outdoors,” says the artist. Free of artificial means or extreme digital enhancements, Leach’s stunning Northern Lights imagery captures nature’s magnificent display as curtains of luminescent silk dance against star-filled nights.
The photographs' compositions and framing eloquently portray the breathtaking spectacle as day winks into night. Leach employs lens and light with alacrity and skill, revealing pristine dawns and fiery sunsets over glassy meres. The shades and hues of the wondrous palette of creation is portrayed with reverence and truth. Each work reveals what nature often conceals in fleeting moments. Perseverance is rewarded. The essence and nuance of each image bestows an almost dreamlike quality on what is being photographed. Each work is revelatory and presented with the talent and creativity of an auteur.
The work of Cuban-born artist Frank Lorenzo speaks to the human condition. Utilizing clay, a malleable organic material, Lorenzo molds formations with his bare hands. These shapes take the form of a human man, hewn into his surroundings as if submerged. Like the works of Modern sculptor Alberto Giacometti, these sculptures are elongated and richly textured, an aesthetic that imbues each work with a sense of disquiet. The figures seem to be preoccupied, each absorbed in his own thoughts. In these works, Lorenzo seeks to conjure a spark of fear or uncertainty in order to exemplify how we as humans work through anxiety or distress. Connecting us with our own feelings, these works speak a poignant truth. “I love the moments when I realize that my art is connecting to someone else, that I have created something that talks to another human being who can in turn identify with it,” explains the artist. Working with raku, glaze and enamel techniques, Lorenzo creates sculptures that are each a timeless testament to the human experience.
Frank Lorenzo lives and works in Miami.
Inspired by classical art and photography, and by the camera’s transition into the digital age, photographer Carol Brooks Parker captures the essence and soul of nature’s endless bounty. Her imagery presents each subject through an interpretive creative eye that augments what passes through the lens, adding emotion to truth. “The images I select for my portfolio are those that have a painterly quality without straying too far from the photographic reality of the original capture. These become lasting souvenirs of brief moments frozen in time, beauty captured and shared to feed the soul,” says Parker.
Parker’s images speak to mind and heart, drawing on composition, light and shadow, gesture and sentimentality to unite imagination with studied craft. She balances color and form, patience and serendipity to achieve presentations that inspire one’s breathless awe of nature. Images are carefully and minimally enhanced to reflect Parker’s interpretation of her subject and its pristine environment. Here, technology bows to creativity and the result is both revelatory and inspirational, revealing what Parker feels in every frame.
Inspired by life and the beautifully mountainous natural world of Haiti where he was born, Alix Pierre has always been moved to draw and paint, though it was winning two art competitions that convinced him to become a professional artist. His works achieve a sense of spirituality and love, reflecting the joy he feels when he applies paint and brush to canvas. His realistic depictions of nature, dreamlike fantasies and modern neo-abstracts reveal an artist who has dedicated himself to works that are at once inspirational and evocative. Through ethereal composition and an adroit use of vibrant colors, Pierre conveys a worldly vision of peace and harmony.
Using mostly oil, acrylic and tempera paints, Pierre’s richly detailed landscapes and still life renditions have earned him wide recognition in important exhibitions. One finds a subtle but undeniable message in the artist’s cumulative work, a message that delights the eye with hue and balance, expressing an emotion that surfaces upon studied introspection. Pierre moves us with imagery that re-defines nature and the everyday objects and people that touch our lives. In this sense, every work brings us closer to the soul of this talented artist.
Belarussian artist Bekir Smolski has long been fascinated by the light, and this absorption is expressed in his artwork – an exploration of the variations and permutations of light is a hallmark of the artist’s "unreal landscape" paintings. In Smolski’s magical creations, elements of symbolism, fantasy, and romanticism combine to create a mystical realm where there is a different view and different path to light. Here, the viewer is invited to go “through” the canvas to another dimension, to pursue a “fascinating journey through the light and to the light that could represent for different people a hope, a dream, or an absolute truth.” The artist uses a painting technique whereby a smooth coating of oil paint on canvas is interspersed with soft transitions between colors. The resulting images are highly contemplative, inspiring an almost meditative response from the viewer. At times, however, Smolski also uses texture and artistic furrow smears in order to increase the emotional perception and dynamics of the painting, adding a level of expressionism to the overall effect.
Bekir Smolski currently lives and works in Vienna, Austria.
Drawing on many artistic traditions, Noor Suthar paints colorful geometric studies, naturalistic and expressive figures, and passionately stylized spiritual themes, all with an appealing warmth and freedom. Human relationships are at the heart of Noor's art, along with a deep reverence for the universal energy of the natural world, as he infuses his paintings with a powerful tenderness and emotional poignancy. Noor's art is widely varied, bringing together a variety of subjects and methods from across the gamut of art history in a celebration of the creative spirit. The artist builds his works in oil paints on canvas and in acrylic paint and crayon on paper, letting his inspiration direct the motions of his brushstrokes as they carry across divides of style and technique, allowing him to discover his own artistic visions.
Born in India, Noor Suthar received his Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Art from M. S. University, Vadodara, Gujarat, India and now lives in Toronto as a Canadian citizen. An avid world traveler, his art has enjoyed global exposure in recent years, including appearing in a group exhibit in Botswana.