The exhibition Portal of Enigma creates a stage for artists who have displayed daring approaches to contemporary art. Each piece is undeniably bold in color, line, and composition. The artists embrace abstraction, offering layers of emotion and movement and begging the viewer to step in to an unknown world. The collection is wrought with a powerful experience transferred from the artists to the audience.
Canadian artist and hobby microbiologist Jordan Clayton paints wholly unique, yet entirely natural abstractions based on microscopic observations of home-grown cultures. The beauty of his wispy, ethereal paintings challenge societal expectations of his subjects which include bacterium, viruses, fungi, and single-celled organisms. They are an homage to nature in a way altogether unique from landscape and figurative paintings: embracing the often unsung world of science in art.
Clayton was once a figurative painter, whose interest in the human form reflected his own personal struggles with masculinity. However, the diagnosis and subsequent treatment of a digestive parasite rerouted his focus, turning his fascination with the body into one far more microscopic. Today, his nebulous, sinewy oil paintings reflect the very nature of growth and decay.
When viewing Jordan Clayton's works, one is reminded of fantastical worlds. His almost eerie, veiny lines evoke the reaching claws of demons or wings of angels. The interactions between colors and shapes turn these microbe subjects into vast universes of whimsy and imagination. While the paintings themselves invite interpretation, Clayton's titles often offer very grounded, honest descriptions of the original subjects and themes.
Before he began painting, Jörg Guyer worked as a technical draftsman at his father’s engineering firm. This influence can be seen today in Guyer’s canvases, which are filled with detailed abstract geometry. Each painting embraces a minimal palette, playing on the recognition of primary colors. Jumping out against the often single or dual-colored backgrounds, his subjects have bold outlines that teeter between abstract and recognizable forms of landscapes, animals, and people. For Guyer, this variety of forms symbolizes the strengths and weaknesses of humanity.
Guyer's paintings are paradoxically both simplistic and complex, resembling the plotted compositions of coloring books while maintaining a sophisticated maturity. Shadows, limbs, and fabric catch the eye, inviting the viewer to share in the artist's whimsy. The bright hues of Guyer's acrylic and oil evoke the natural elements – fire, water, air, and earth – or, rather, how they might appear in dreams.
Guyer lives and works in Black Forest, Germany. His body of work strives toward connecting the quotidian within a storytelling environment.
Marrying the emotive aspects of poetry with abstract mathematics and minimalism, Swiss artist Paul Haehlen unites what are traditionally opposed schools in a remarkably intuitive body of work. Haehlen, who has studied on the global level, utilizes his artistic and architectural background to illustrate the power of subtlety in conveying emotion. His particular attention to the poetics of self-conscious repetition, distortion, and recursion, along with the clever usage of unclear lines and delineations, produces a dreamlike quality that goes beyond the viewer's expectations.
Drawing from established schools of art, Haehlen's work both subverts and expands on the traditional aspects of minimalism. Haehlen uses his acrylics to escape two-dimensionality, detailing his work with an intricate shading that adds a sense of physical and metaphorical depth to his work. Going beyond art-as-process, the paintings are an exploration of applied theory, where complex geometrics and the understated shades between primary colors come together in what Haehlen calls a "pairing of harmony and tension," no less dynamic for its subtlety.
The eclectic works of Romanian-born artist Haviv Hauspeter are at once intuitive and abstract. One finds a definite measure and tenor to his use of colors and abbreviated brushstrokes. “My painting process is a dialog between myself, the colors, the brushes, the spatulas I use and the canvas,” explains Hauspeter. He invokes mind and soul to create his “perfect painting,” using layers of colors, textures and techniques. His paintings are vividly expressive, moody and emotionally stirring. The movement in his acrylic works reflects an existential mindset, a passion to explore how we interpret the world. Hauspeter is a photographer as well as a painter, and his skill in this medium demonstrates the keen observation with which he meets life – something that also feeds into his paintings. He is an artist with the power to establish, through striking imagery, the motion and emotion of being alive. He fulfills our need to express the joys and contemplative stages of our existence and experience. In this, Hauspeter is both observer and contributor, conveying the elemental truths that unite us.
Haviv Hauspeter’s artwork has been exhibited in several major exhibitions in Israel.
Susan Marx is an Abstract Impressionist whose paintings are the result of her radical amazement at the beauty of the visual world and her need to turn that experience into paint. Using nature as her frame of reference, Marx paints her interpretation of the world around her, with a particular concentration on light and color. She enjoys enticing and engaging her viewers, drawing them into a fresh and beautiful world.
Marx uses fast-drying acrylics which allow her to paint quickly, with bold, rich colors and gestural brushstrokes. She leaves parts of the canvas blank intentionally, in order to create more contrast and tension between the color and the space around it, allowing the painting to breathe. She enjoys the process of putting color next to color, capturing the essence of her subject through color and emotion, while leaving the rest to the viewer's imagination. It is clear that Marx works to the muse of Monet, Van Gogh and Joan Mitchell.
B. A. Mintz
Almost abstract yet almost recognizable, B. A. Mintz’s work is a fascinating amalgam of styles. Mintz paints collections of undulating shapes in lush, multicolored acrylic. Her forms are not simple geometric structures but freewheeling and widely variable. They fit together like puzzle pieces, yet they also seem to be growing out of and overlapping one another. The color technique itself is a mix of color-blocking and shading. Mintz applies this method to all kinds of images – landscapes, figure studies, narrative scenes. Though she paints entirely from imagination, the artist has found a way to invoke what she calls “impressionist surrealism” in her dreamy, fluid images. The colors are lively but even, resulting in a flattened canvas and scenery that appears to show a close perspective even when it doesn’t. Textures are stylized to be non-specific, requiring careful observation in order to be understood.
Mintz grew up in southern California and currently divides her time between Florida and New York City. Her work is collected across the country, including in Texas, California, Georgia, Vermont, and Florida.
The luminous paintings of SANTONI Siegfried are saturated with rich colors that collide forcefully into each other, forging beauty as undeniable as that of a blood orange sunset or crashing wave. His paintings range from the semi-realistic to the fully abstract. In the former, the faint ghosts of cities and skeletal skylines seem trapped in a sort of radiant time warp or drowned in the murk of a risen sea. In the latter, a sense of light shines through a perfect balance of colors that should, by all rights, sear through each other in cacophonous fashion, but instead play off one another masterfully.
SANTONI paints primarily in acrylics, using a method of his own device called Fine Layer Acrylic that involves up to 150 layers of paint. SANTONI draws his inspiration from meditation and spirituality, as well as his love of sailing and the Mediterranean Sea. For SANTONI, meditation is a way to “download” his artwork. The idea is pulled from the ether and applied with a brush. It is, to him, a means of contacting the divine.
Sheila Susanna Shelton
A practitioner of Vipassana meditation, Sheila Susanna Shelton views painting as a meditative practice that eliminates the ego. When she paints, Shelton feels that she is no longer a “doer,” but instead a medium through which life itself travels. Shelton paints outdoors in “pure light” under a mountain apple tree in Kauai. “My paintings,” Shelton says, “are an expression of the silence and joy that is happening in my innermost being.”
Shelton’s paintings are abstract expressionist in nature and hearken back to a variety of artists within the movement. She employs a number of techniques in her art, from paint dripping to thick brushwork, the result of which is a diverse body of work that constantly surprises. Shelton’s artistic instincts were bolstered by her time at the Color Research Institute of San Francisco, where she studied under Ruth Strock, a proponent of “color-awareness” as learned through the metaphysics of color, an ancient Hindu science. Art has long been an essential mode of expression. “What cannot be said in words,” Shelton remarks, “is said in the play of colors.”
The natural world comes together with man-made structures in Cordell Taylor’s sculptures. Comparing the construction of his pieces to the formation of rocks or crystals, Taylor calls his works “a metamorphosis of Nature and Man,” and that metamorphosis comes about through the artist's knowledge of the materials he uses, as well as his ability to employ shape, color, and texture in ways that change our perceptions of form and space. Shapes intersect in unexpected combinations that defy gravity while maintaining a sense of balance. “Each shape grows from or supports another,” Taylor says, and that organic sense of composition provides his work with its clear center.
Working in steel, the artist brings his experience as a professional ironworker and fabricator strongly into play. He makes steel appear alternately earthbound and weightless, and gives it a surprising range of textures and colors — from light, glowing surfaces to dark, somber shades. When that variety is played off against the shifts in scale and proportion that Taylor expertly executes, the result is a body of work that challenges and stimulates the viewer.
In Fred Tieken’s paintings, the energy of street art is transformed through the artist’s feel for color and composition and his socially aware sense of humor. After years as a musician and then a graphic artist, Tieken found his voice as a painter by adding the clarity of graphic art to the uninhibited energy of jazz and rock music. Citing artists like Baselitz, Schnabel and Basquiat as influences, Tieken combines their signature primal energy and sophisticated sensibility with his own precise style and wry wordplay, bringing his images firmly into their own territory.
Painting in acrylics on surfaces that range from canvas to cardboard to aluminum (often adding elements of collage), Tieken uses bold brushstrokes to create complex areas of movement that provide each image with a strong surface energy. His color palette contributes another level of intensity — bursts of red, yellow and green animate his compositions. The artist says that for him, painting is like baring his soul to the world, and that level of emotional commitment comes vividly across in his work.
With rough, sculpted surfaces and an abstract application of pigments, the works of S.J.A. Tomalak evoke the surreal beauty of urban decay. This is something Tomalak pursues quite purposefully, seeking to portray the inevitable chemical processes of the sun, gravity, and erosion that move through all our lives, breaking down and aging both people and objects. It’s not an apocalyptic vision of the end, but an acceptance of the cyclical nature of our environment. A chemist, Tomalak is very interested in different materials such as ground minerals, construction materials, and acrylic and polymer compounds, all of which he utilizes when forming his highly textured canvases. Tomalak is constantly experimenting with techniques and pigments, and most of his work is created with completely original mediums and elements.
Tomalak started painting at sixteen, and his artistic roots lie in traditional landscape painting. Though Tomalak’s work today is abstract, one can still recognize a separation between heaven and earth and a sense of the picturesque. Tomalak's paintings reflect the world's complexity as well as his own emotions and anxieties.