The artists featured in Enigmatic Realms are able to apply their keen observational skills and sensitivity in order to create images which reflect a world recognizable to each viewer, yet tinted by the artists’ unique vision and interpretation. The pieces are gracefully persuasive, presenting the audience with something original and appealing on a number of levels.
Inspired by the quaint harbors, boats and marshes of the New England coastline, self-taught Lisa Froment employs vivid colors and the play of light to reveal more than what initially catches the eye. “Mother Nature inspires me because she has never painted a bad canvas,” says Froment. Her mastery of watercolors and oils portrays the subtle mood and feeling of each subject. Her use of contrast and hue invokes an inescapable serenity. In an expression of her creative vision, she experiments with non-traditional colors for sea and sky, employing oil and water to express being “in the moment.”
An avid photographer, Froment often draws on her photos for content and context. Her use of color, through brushstroke or palette knife, bestows each work with a unique grace and charm. She imbues her subjects with personality, expressing everything from boats to birds with respect and affection. Each thought-provoking work moves the viewer closer to nature, inviting reflection and a sense of solitude. In this, Froment’s pieces comprise soliloquies of visual expression, underscoring abandon and dislocation from a busy world.
Ole Gahms Henriksen
Minimalist painter Ole Gahms Henriksen creates subtly layered pieces of art that he perceives as living works, constantly changing and incomplete until a viewer defines how to approach and contain them. Perhaps it is this sense of the uncontainable and inexpressible that makes Ole's work so compelling. With numerous applications of pigment and textured brushstrokes, the artist has developed his own unique brand of minimalism that focuses on color. Using acrylic pigments because they dry quickly, Ole paints subtle variations of the same hue one on top of another, until he feels the piece is complete. He says the simplicity of his paintings and technique reflect the simplicity of life, creating a spiritual understanding of the inexplicable — a practice that the painter extends not only to his art, but to his life as well.
Born in Denmark, Ole studied art at Det Fynske Kunstakademi in Odense and has called Spain home for many years. He says his work is inspired by the light in Spain, the curves of the Andalusian Mountains, and the crashing of the waves on the Mediterranean coast.
“As a young prince growing up, a sense of holiness blew over my mind,” says the Haitian born artist Shakespeare Guirand. Having hailed from a “mystical island,” he points out that the influences of Voodoo, Haiti’s elemental forces and its many overlapping cultures are apparent in his work. In these paintings bold slashes of color and subtle rhythms depict visually the intersection of the artist’s myriad intellectual, spiritual and emotional influences. Working primarily in oil and enamel on canvas or wood, for Guirand painting is a pure expression of the vacillating waves of perception we call living. Diving into melancholy, joy, risk and freedom, the works possess a lilting passion and forceful emotionality. Ripe with color and alive with texture and movement, they seem to capture each divine facet of living that we know, and probe even deeper into what remains a mystery. No matter what the formal subject matter, exploration and discovery shine through as principles at work.
Shakespeare Guirand was born and raised in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. He currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York and has exhibited professionally in Brooklyn, Chelsea and Queens.
“Geometric shapes” and “the character of colors” are at the center of Susumu Hasegawa’s images. Spirals and spheres intersect with pieces of text, rulers and a variety of other shapes and motifs, appearing in patterns that are repeated across his work, gaining their variety through the artist’s subtle use of light and color. By shifting his colors slightly, or changing perspectives by even the smallest degree, Hasegawa can totally alter the impression made by an object or shape, casting a new shade of meaning over each image.
His elegantly executed giclee prints incorporate elements of collage and ink drawing, resulting in a strong feeling of texture and energy combined with a calm sense of minimalism. What the artist calls “the structure of opposite concepts” can be seen in the way he balances such contrasts, playing bustling areas of activity off against fields of pure color for both aesthetic and symbolic effect. “I make much of blank space,” he says. “It is the imaginary space in a sense.” It is that vivid sense of the imaginary that gives his images their power and draws viewers in.
The abstract expressionistic paintings of New York artist Virginia Knapp explore both the concrete natural world and the world of dreams, aspirations, and the depths of human consciousness. Using a variety of media, Knapp creates colorful patterns across her canvases that are sometimes graced with more recognizable figurative forms. Strong emotions are conveyed within each work, so that mood becomes a strong compositional element in these creations. Much of Knapp’s work is inspired by the abstract forms and patterns contained in the natural world, and through her art she hopes to build more awareness and concern for the devastation being thrust upon the planet. But the underlying force driving her art is a strong connection to the interior world that all humans possess. Knapp explains her process in simple but compelling terms: “As a conceptual artist, I utilize my dreams, nightmares, fears, passions, and strengths… creating images that dwell within me.”
Virginia Knapp comes from a long line of artists and can even trace her lineage back to Renaissance times and the work of Gregorio and Elizabetta Lazzarini.
In each of his bold, abstract works, American artist Alan McKee begins with an organic form and then transforms that form through the use of digital technology. What results is a true revisioning and reinterpretation of nature. McKee literally paints with light, using a pressure-sensitive computer tablet that enables him to “realize the dream of the Impressionists.” What results is a series of vibrant, dynamic images featuring a much wider color gamut than can be achieved with traditional painting or printing techniques.
A great influence on McKee’s work has been the art of Japanese artist Susumu Endo, whose work with computer art introduced a new vision-altering medium. In his own work, McKee leverages these digital techniques to explore the fragility of nature, catching the viewer off guard when they realize that they are still observing natural forms but from an entirely new perspective. The artist describes his process as creating “a ‘gate’ that can take us beyond the visible metaphor of this world, to construct as Miro described it, ‘… a doorway to another world.’”
Daniel S. Solloway
With color, line, and contrast, Daniel S. Solloway explores what he calls “the mystical or spiritual side of life.” Solloway is a relentlessly inquisitive artist who has experimented with many styles and media over his long career. His recent work, a series of abstract mixed media paintings, features flowing webs of color that buckle and crest like eddies of water. Solloway packs contrasts of tone, light, and direction into each piece, making them masterworks of tension. Yet the paintings are not rigid – on the contrary, they are intensely fluid. Colors shift into each other continuously, like a kaleidoscope view pinned to the canvas. Shapes thin out into lines, then gather back up into shapes. There is no beginning or end to Solloway’s mesmerizing patterns, only the rolling sensation of a continuous composition. The positive and negative space, intricately entwined, creates an image with boundless depth.
Solloway was born in Woodward, Oklahoma and currently lives in Oklahoma City. He has worked with many integral figures of the southwest American art scene, including Dord Fitz.
Lucien Tilly’s mesmerizing paintings form scenes that range from abstract views of icy crystals to naively rendered hills and pastures, always portrayed through brightly colored dots of paint. For each piece, Tilly hand-mixes his pigments, creating the perfect combination of colors that, when used side by side, create both depth and flatness. He uses a wooden stick to apply each dot of color, never tiring of the process, and enjoying the sense of losing himself to the rhythm of the action. He finds it both calming and invigorating, and this feeling affects and infuses the resulting works.
Tilly’s technique and his paintings more generally are inspired by the traditions of Australia’s Aboriginal artists, which have had a dramatic impact on the artist. In addition, he looks to his own surroundings, and his memories of travel to Australia, searching for ways to connect his experiences to history. This mode of creation allows him to reflect on tradition, culture, and visual language, and to highlight the communal aspects of art-making in his pieces.
Philadelphia artist Dave Toporowski calls his unique pieces “hanging sculptures.” With a background in decorative and mural painting, Toporowski has developed a unique process that is as close to sculpture as it is to painting. Rubbed onto hardboard or polystyrene, a unique mixture of resins, grouts and fortified joint compounds form a rock-like surface. Within this surface, a low relief image of the human figure is created. The artist then paints each piece with an assortment of media that might include metallic paints, wood stains, shellacs, varnishes or latex paints. This technique produces an effect that is at once modern and ancient, and indeed Toporowski describes his style as “modern cave-art.”
Toporowski deliberately references the feminine form in his artwork because of his interest in, and desire to represent, what he calls the Divine Feminine. Spirituality infuses and informs all of his work, and the artist hopes that his pieces will inspire people to awaken to the transformative power of love in their own lives.
For the artist Varho, a mixed media philosophy governs his use of an array of materials and techniques including photography, text flow, painting, acrylic spray and classic collage with magazine. Using a photograph as the foundational layer, he utilizes text and paint to enter into dialog with the original image. Aiming to let his process speak to a “subjective inner world,” each piece encompasses multiple dimensionalities of pigment, light and text. Chiefly interested in sub-urban cultures, including street and pop art, Varho prefers to photograph, at twilight, what he terms “the rift between the two worlds.” His works ultimately exist in the realm of human cognition, and his true subject matter always lies within. Using an eclectic mix of materials to render visually his emotions, echoes, visions and doubts (conscious and unconscious), each work tells a deeply personal and nuanced story.
Varho was born in Czechoslovakia when it was still governed by Communism, and currently calls both Slovakia and Austria home. He has exhibited throughout Slovakia as well as in Amsterdam, Paris, Vienna and Prague. Varho is included in public and private collections in Europe and North America.