Divergent Realities presents the work of artists who each use their personal vision of the world as a basis for a comprehensive network of understanding and perception. Their varied interpretations then inform and enrich their exemplary artwork. Every aspect of both shared and individual experience impacts these creations, a testament to the artists' close observation and careful consideration.
“My aim is to provide visual metaphors that relate to the human condition,” says Maryhelen Ewing of her work. In her hands, a still life or landscape is more than just the objects depicted. The shapes, colors and perspectives in her images have a life of their own, combining her talent for observation with a very personal approach. Painting in oils on canvas, wood and Masonite, the artist makes images in which she lets her materials speak for her.
“Oil paints,” she says, “are so delicious, impossible for me to resist,” and her paintings make the most of the rich colors and sensuous textures that oils can provide. She is also highly skilled at creating the effect of light and shadows, giving her subjects a full-bodied physicality and a three-dimensional sense of space. That physicality is also embodied in the surface texture of her works — the result of a meticulous style that incorporates both a painting knife and brushes. The mixture of that physical power and Ewing’s metaphorical bent results in a body of work that creates a unique, compelling world.
“When I am creating art,” Kristina Garon says, “it just comes to me naturally.” That feeling of naturalness and spontaneity is at the heart of what gives her paintings their appeal. “I can’t wait to see what comes to my canvas,” she adds, and that journey of discovery is something viewers also make while taking in her work. In what initially appear to be abstract swirls and patterns, faces and objects emerge, adding an element of human drama to the juxtapositions of colors and lines. That mix of worlds and tones gives her works energy and movement.
Working in acrylics, Garon capitalizes on the textures they provide and their intense colors. The paints in her works often have a liquid quality, sometimes seeming as if they were poured onto the canvas, at other times showing the power of the creative hand in the brushstrokes with which they are applied. When combined with her shimmering colors, the resulting surfaces pulse with life, reflecting the artist’s positive intent. “With my paintings,” says Garon, “I hope to create more positive energy and joy.”
The stylistic, expressive paintings of British artist Karen Greville-Smith are as whimsical as they are profound. Working in oil on canvas or board and in pastel on paper, she draws from a range of subject matter to explore how lines, colors, geometric shapes, and surface patterns intersect in unique ways to create form. With a background in graphic design, the artist has an excellent sense of composition and is able to place objects expertly in the picture plane, finding new meanings in familiar items by isolating them and manipulating forms in terms of scale, color, and shadow.
Perhaps the hallmark of Karen Greville-Smith’s work is her remarkable use of color and the way she is able to manipulate light and shadow to bring her work to an entirely new level. As she explains, “Primarily a colorist, my love of color and light informs atmosphere in my work.” Indeed, there is an ethereal component to her work, a sense of the surreal. In the end, these engaging paintings encourage us to find the magical in the everyday.
Known for her expert use of hue and texture and large bright canvasses, Debbie Grossman paints the natural world passionately, with vivid color and expressive line. Often splashed with dream-like depictions of abstracted images from nature, her works evoke a sense of peace, oneness and divine feminine awakening into bliss. Enchanted by vibrant hues, nature, pure pigment and the swift scrapes and cuts of the palette knife, Grossman prefers to work at night and is mystically inclined to create “if there is a full moon.” Having worked in oil, acrylic and watercolor, her latest series of abstractions in acrylic and oil pastel are on canvas. Erotic movement, rich texture and bleeding color accentuate the profoundly holistic vision behind Grossman’s delicately shimmering oeuvre.
Debbie Grossman currently lives in South Florida and is originally from New York City. Her work has been shown in gallery and museum exhibitions throughout the United States, and she has been the recipient of numerous international awards and honors.
Japanese artist Kenji Inoue produces stunning works that combine a surrealistic vision with a decidedly figurative bent. His compositions are ambitious and otherworldly, seamlessly blending elements of color, line, and form in new ways to create fantastical landscapes replete with emotive expression. Colors are at once bold and vibrant and yet simultaneously soft and beckoning, inviting the viewer to experience the gamut of the human emotional plane. Yet underneath it all, a strong sense of harmony and balance dominates the work.
As an artist, Inoue chooses not to analyze or explain his art but rather leaves the interpretation and understanding of each work to his audience. To him, within every piece lies a crucial movement just waiting to be discovered. As Inoue explains, “My art has no meaning, no answer... [It is] something that can only be felt, not explained.” Indeed, left unexamined, the layers of meaning found within each piece become personal to the viewer, opening up new windows and visions into the self.
Giorgio Linda is a self-taught artist interested in the primordial dance of light and color. His semi-realist paintings often focus on architectonic form and landscape. Occasional moments of heroic figuration bleed into abstraction and sweeping fields of kaleidoscopic color. Having come of age in Italy, teaching himself to paint, certainly the imprint of great masters Titian, Tintoretto and Tiepolo have shaped his unique painterly idiom. Despite being in a social minority in his home country, Linda’s work remains heavily indebted culturally, aesthetically and philosophically to his Jewish background. Working primarily in oil on wood, watercolor and engraving, Linda’s work is largely influenced by the artist’s passion for literature, history and music. A skilled colorist with a concise approach to formal concerns, according to the Director of The Museum of Israeli Art, his paintings even “radiate love.”
Giorgio Linda spent his first few years of childhood in Italy immersed in the turmoil of WWII. As an adult he has exhibited extensively in Italy as well as abroad in Canada, Austria, Switzerland, Israel and the United States.
Globe-trotting and idyllic, Brenda Ness-Cooper’s watercolor scenes are small, beautiful vacations. Ness-Cooper paints in bright, airy watercolor on board. Her lines are easy, and her textures are deceptively nuanced. The compositions are lively, and the artist seems to be experimenting with something new from piece to piece. Some works are outright landscapes, others mid-range views with an appealing amount of complicated geometry, and still others are very tight, simple shots. The subject is travel, most often to iconic destinations – Santorini, Sydney, Venice, Paris, the American Southwest – and sometimes to notable beaches – Fire Island, tropical beaches – or just private oceanfront decks. Ness-Cooper tries to depict a unique view of the subject of each painting, whether that subject is a well-known place or a private locale. She combines gorgeous, sunny locations with carefully chosen details reflecting the artist's unique vision and encouraging the viewer to look – and then look again.
Ness-Cooper was born in Brooklyn, New York, and currently lives in Staten Island. After a successful career as a New York City school teacher, she moved on to painting outdoor, decidedly non-urban scenes.
Nobuko Ogawa is a Japanese painter who strives to balance feelings of strength and weakness using her paintings as a scale. In order to achieve this balance, she will complete a painting and then destroy it, bringing it back to life with the touch of her brush. Studying Japanese calligraphy, Ogawa has learned the impact that the mark of a brush can have, and is therefore extremely sensitive to this in the construction or deconstruction of her paintings.
Ogawa’s paintings are expressionistic works, but figurative at their core. Motion and the decision-making process of the artist are visible for all to see as she positions and repositions elements in the paintings. Each painting seems to serve as a footnote to an emotion – a concentration of stream of consciousness on the canvas, traveling from the artist’s brain and heart through the brush. Her color, often including vibrant greens and scorching reds, is reminiscent of a Fauvist palette. Nobuko Ogawa’s oil paintings are vigorous studies in linework, color blocking, and composition, and with her perfect sense of balance the artist has found the secret of creating alluring original imagery.
Claudia Pombo’s sumptuous oil paintings mix lush nature images with surreal touches. Pombo portrays many different subjects, from opulent landscapes to faces and figures. She sometimes zooms in on a certain element – the spray of mist caused by water falling into a pool, or the wispiness of clouds. In other compositions the perspective draws back, often with a thought-provoking, skewed angle. Pombo is interested in texture and the power of immersion, using saturated colors and deep shadows. She describes her work as trying “to draw my own experiences but giving some plasticity and adaptability to them.” Each piece has a unique angle that shifts the narrative into the world of the unreal. Skin is peeled back to reveal a sky full of stars. A rosebush features a single eye among its blooms.
A self-taught artist, she also works in watercolor, mixed media and illustration. The rich mythology of Brazil and South American have been strong influences on her illustration work. Pombo was born in Natal, northeast Brazil, was raised in Niteroi and has lived in Rio de Janeiro as well as several European cities. She currently lives in Amsterdam.
The paintings of Thomas Raoult deliberately recall the work of early 20th century artists like Marcel Duchamp, Paul Klee and Giorgio de Chirico. Building with a set of personal pictorial codes, Raoult constructs paintings that reflect the relationship between individuals and the isolation that can form as a result of prejudices and lack of communication. Like the Surrealists, he allows his unconscious to guide him in creating every piece, all the while seeking the unexpected. Starting with oils and a brush or palette knife, Raoult begins by painting the background, gradually allowing a character, form or attitude to arise from the canvas as if of its own accord. As the artist himself says, pure art is a conversation between the conscious and unconscious, the material and the ephemeral.
Born in the Champagne region of France, Thomas Raoult describes himself as a “humanist misanthrope.” His current work is deeply influenced by the death of his father, his first art critic and teacher, but he hopes each person will take away their own message from his paintings.
Robert Paul Saphier
In Robert Paul Saphier’s images, a sense of formal composition and structure combines with the artist’s meticulous eye for color and texture to create a body of work that strikes a compelling balance between the spontaneous and the intentional. “To me,” he says, “a work of art should evoke a visceral response and yet also induce a state of calm and measured contemplation.” Starting from what he calls a “mathematical base,” Saphier gives each of his works a geometric solidity, a grounded presence that anchors even the most abstract image. But he also makes that exactitude and precision come alive, using a subtly modulated color palette to create a feeling of light and space that heightens the physicality of each work.
In many ways the distinctive colors in Saphier’s pieces come from his expert use of egg tempera, employing a process that requires patience and contemplation to best achieve its effects. The artist says he finds tempera to be the perfect vehicle for “clear articulation and tonal translucency,” and indeed those qualities are what give his work its unique aura.
Robert Paul Saphier passed away on June 5, 2014, having battled M.S. for over 40 years. The positive energy and dedication that characterized his life and his work mean that he is greatly missed by friends, family, and those who had the privilege to know him through his art.