The artwork presented in The Manifestation of Milieu takes objects, images and atmospheres with which we think we are familiar and infuses each one with something new and vibrant, providing us with a fresh and intriguing perspective. Drawing on personal memories and experience, the artists also communicate on a universal level, sharing their insights with their audience.

Featured Artists: Charest, Jim Cobb, Carolina Ferrara, Gwen Freeman, Steven R. Hill, Gary E. Koeppel, David Rolandeau, Eduardo D. Rubin, Ivan A. Tomicic, Iryna Torskaya.

In his acrylic studies of fruit, Charest takes the classic still life format and infuses it with a self-aware intention that is completely different, and completely unexpected. What Charest really paints are portraits: pictures of singles, couples, and groups acting out relationships and moments of private emotion. Dramatic cropping, rich color, and a lack of recognizable background further plunge the canvases into mystery, and make it easier to imagine such fruit living in its own world. The paintings provide more questions than answers.

Jim Cobb creates thickly layered figurative and abstract oil paintings which reflect personal visions rather than objective images. In both his figurative and abstract works, the individual marks and forms have a tendency to shift and blur into the backdrop, creating a beautiful and unstable contrast between subject and setting.

Having been taught to paint by her mother, Carolina Ferrara says that her approach to painting is “instinctive” rather than academic. That instinctive quality shows itself in her compositions, which combine an appealingly relaxed quality with a solid sense of balance. Her subjects are captured with a lack of pretense, but that casual air is tempered with elegance and restraint, resulting in images that appear as perfectly composed moments pulled out of time.

Gwen Freeman’s acrylic on canvas paintings are ‘psychological portraits’ with a strong geometric foundation and eclectic neo-Surrealist flair. Drawn to life’s signature moments – particularly the dinner hour around the family table – her works draw out the mythological, spiritual and magical properties of quotidian family life.

The powerful and dynamic landscape paintings of American artist Steven R. Hill combine representational subjects with abstract possibilities. Working in pastel on paper, Hill uses this creative approach to capture the immediacy of the moment, no matter the subject. Within each painting, he pushes the limits of color and light, transforming recognizable subjects into so much more. Here, the viewer is invited to find new meanings in common forms and to see the greater depth and beauty of our world.

Gary E. Koeppel employs a potent combination of strong contrast and vibrant color in his oil paintings, rendering landscapes and the human form alike with arresting simplicity. Drawn to water and skies, and to the natural shades of blues and greens, Koeppel creates images of peace and serenity that evoke a sense of blissful solitude. Distance, and the subtle interplay between foreground and background which creates a compelling illusion of space, feature strongly in much of Koeppel’s work.

David Rolandeau creates large oil paintings that explore the vastness of space and Earth’s place in it. He is particularly drawn to the texture of clouds, and to the way in which echoes of events that we see on Earth may be replicated in space – for example, the spiral clouds of hurricanes mimicking the spiral arms of galaxies. Rolandeau’s work features very strong line and movement, portraying the powerful forces that are at work in nature and in the universe. Energetic brushstrokes complement these qualities. He gravitates to scenes of our planet from orbit, which draws the viewer’s attention to the unfathomable, exhilarating reality of infinity.

Photographer Eduardo D. Rubin seeks to reveal the sorrows and strengths of humanity and the cities in which we live through his work. His photographs are poignant and sensitive, capturing a wide variety of moods and emotions across a varied range of subject matter. Rubin’s incredible use of composition and contrast, taken together with his deep-seated sensitivity (and an occasional hint of playfulness and humor), makes his work stand out. He stands back, unnoticed, and allows moments to present themselves to him.

Serene and melodic, the paintings of Croatian-born artist Ivan A. Tomicic blithely blend realism with surrealism in whimsical poignancy. Sumptuously textural, these works are poetic paeans to beauty. The artist’s skill as a painter is evident in his charming, ethereal brushwork, which is at once delicate and precise as well as expressive and universal. Tomicic’s paintings are odes to nuances in color, form and shape.

Iryna Torskaya’s otherworldly portraits explore the spectacular folds of the creative psyche through the vibrant tactility of acrylic, oil and latex on paper. A self-taught artist who in earlier years subsisted on gel pens before she could afford paint and canvas, her work is semi-autobiographical and full of positive and revelatory symbolism.