In the exhibition Realms of Figuration, the viewer enters a world where warmth and light predominate. Truly original perspectives are given the opportunity to grow into striking and memorable works of art. Lively, skillfully executed and emotionally powerful, these works radiate energy and elegance, infusing the viewer with a sense of possibility.
Danish artist Lone Hedegaard creates paintings that come from happiness – bright pops of energy and positivity that light up their surrounding world. With brilliant pigments, a mix of figurative and abstract elements, a strong sense of narrative and numerous references to pop culture, Hedegaard’s work lightens the mood of a room and draws people in with its unusual textures and exuberant colors. The artist believes that any type of work should come from happiness and make a difference in the world, a philosophy she applies to her painting.
Hedegaard is constantly playing and experimenting with texture and technique. She frequently textures her paintings with sawdust, glass marbles, sand, eggshells, plants and other things she finds during the day. She says her goal is to create something original that is grounded in her attitude and life, and has spent many years developing a divergent style unlike that of anyone else. This approach is even reflected in Hedegaard's unique artistic signature, a section of three squares that look like holes in the canvas.
In Raija Merilä’s figurative oil paintings, the human body glows with hues ranging from warm pink and brown to cool blue and green, creating a play between the body’s interior and the surrounding environmental exterior. The variations in color and tone heighten our awareness of interplay between the body and the atmosphere. It seems as though the blood coursing through the veins, and the tenseness or tautness of skin, visually merges with the heat and atmosphere of a room.
Often the viewer is presented with a humble figure posed with their back to the viewer - highlighting a large terrain of skin and subtle figural curves. Other portraits portray the figure as being linked by positioning or accessories to the history of painting, patron saints, and spiritual figures. In all works, Raija Merilä’s focus on luminosity creates a narrative of elegance and dynamism, capturing flesh and personality simultaneously. The skin itself becomes a vessel for both light and emotion – radiating its light outward into gradients of colored background.
Patricia Olguín’s exquisite sculptures manage to be tranquil and mind-bendingly surrealistic at the same time. Working with a range of materials (often a mixture of wood and metals), Olguín creates pieces that are simply composed but beautifully complicated in terms of surfaces, finishes, and textures. Light bounces off each element in a different way. The artist uses large geometric shapes as a basis for her pared-down structure, then twists and links them in unexpected and provocative ways. But what really sets these sculptures apart is their subject matter. A stunning pair of lips is attached not to a nose and eyes, but to an oversized, enigmatic keyhole. A figure stands triumphantly waving its arms at a podium, but instead of a torso or head it has only an unwieldy egg for a body. Olguín subverts expectations and draws unexpected parallels while retaining all the expressiveness of traditional figure sculpture.
Olguín was born in New York and currently lives in Lima, Peru. She has exhibited widely in both countries, as well as in Uruguay.
Aaron C. Stone
An electric expressionism animates the work of American artist Aaron C. Stone. Resolute in his deep conviction that art and beauty is found in every aspect of everyday life, Stone paints from his soul, pouring out his inner feelings onto the paper. Often taking people as his subjects, the artist conjures a dual portrait in these works, articulating both the essence of a person and his experience of them. Stone is not satisfied with merely capturing a physical likeness; instead, he strives to communicate his subjects’ spirits. Working with a broad, bright color palette, he paints in a style akin to that of German Expressionist Egon Schiele. Like Schiele’s, these figures are sinewy and strong. Beginning each of his works with a sketch, Stone allows his compositions to take form fluidly, working through intuition and instinct. “I enjoy the process of evolving my emotions through my art, which results in creating movement in each piece,” he explains. Within each of his works is a conflux of feelings, a vivid picture of the human condition.
Aaron C. Stone lives and works in New York.
“I believe it is more difficult to make people smile and dream,” says Emmanelle Tournois, “than to make them feel sad.” So it comes as little surprise that her paintings, done mostly in oils and spray paints, are infused with a playful sprit. Depicting subjects that range from jazz masters to present-day rappers, she combines an ability to capture the personalities of the musicians in her images with a style that moves them into a mythic realm. She places each figure in a space that translates an artistic signature into physical form, giving her images the status of icons.
In addition to her distinctive use of perspective and composition, Tournois also exhibits a strong eye for color. Contrasting shades create a dynamic sense of space, while softly muted tones combine in dreamlike backgrounds, making each image as much a study in pattern and texture as a portrait. “I am proud to be a self-taught person in the arts,” she says. “Nobody told me what to do, or not do.” That sense of freedom and individuality comes across powerfully in her work.