Contemporary Perspectives presents transformative art, able to demonstrate new ways of using materials, styles and ideas. Refreshing, absorbing and grounded in the present, these pieces show points of view that are unique to each artist yet easily to relate to, making them inspirational in their frank, compelling manner.
Contemporary Iranian artist Pouneh Asli works in a wide variety of media including oil, watercolor, acrylic, colored pencil and pastel. In her work we see the melding of a number of traditions including Abstraction, Realism and Impressionism, joined with her own somewhat diaristic approach to gestural painting. Metaphysical and organic symbolisms linger in Pouneh’s sensuous visual language like golden omens. Flowers, serpentine figures and anthropomorphic forms rendered with a vibrant color palette and abundant sense of texture lend each composition its unique presence. Interested in the translation of emotionality onto the two-dimensional space of the canvas, her work is a fluid extension of her emotional life and serves a cathartic purpose for artist and audience both. Pouneh says that the work “is like meditation. It fills me with serenity and happiness.”
Pouneh was born in Tehran, Iran and currently lives and works in Wausau, Wisconsin. She has worked as an artist for 34 years and shown her work in a number of high profile exhibitions and galleries.
Elegance and simplicity are imperative for Liedeke Bulder, who looks to plant life for the inspiration that fuels her paintings. Born and raised in Amsterdam, Bulder has been inspired by Dutch traditions and landscape, as well as the modernist works of Ellsworth Kelly, Piet Mondrian, and Georgia O’Keeffe.
This variety of influences is seen in Bulder’s style of painting, where carefully arranged images of flowers are staged in botanical repose. She allows the material to flow fluidly across the page in forms which she then works back into to create the structure of the plant. The shapes are rendered as diaphanously in paint as they are in reality, and emerge from a quiescent, enveloping backdrop. Her background color, similar to burnt umber, comes from working with a material called bistre – a pigment made of soot. The warmth of color gives the archival paper an aged look, which Liedeke Bulder uses to represent symbolically the idea of natural cycles and regeneration.
Ouni Mam paints in a wide variety of styles, from figurative to abstract and symbolic pieces. Yet despite the diversity of subjects in her work, every piece by this artist is recognizably hers. This is thanks to her personal signature of bright, saturated colors, impasto brushstrokes, and an emphasis on light and movement. Preferring to work in oils, Ouni Mam’s powerful pieces are creations of the moment, a reflection of the artist’s instincts and emotions as she stands in front of the canvas. As the artist herself explains, she paints “the incorporeal, the conceptual and intangible.” Whatever artistic style she employs, her paintings give the impression of being transparent veils that reveal different but parallel worlds.
Born in France, Ouni Mam now lives on Reunion Island, east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. Her paintings demonstrate a blend of classical art, European modernism, and the unique flavor of the places she’s lived such as Mauritania, Senegal and the influence of the artistic community on Reunion Island. She hopes that her work can give her audience energy, inspire them to dream and provoke contemplation.
Born in Paris, France, and raised in Quebec, Canada and Senegal, Stéphane Delaprée began his artistic career as an illustrator for comic strips. Influenced by Matisse, Henri Rousseau, Fernand Léger and Gauguin, Delaprée’s subjective personal style is both ebullient and optimistic, uplifting the soul in expressions the artist calls "happy painting." Working with acrylic on canvas or on handmade paper, his large paintings (some as expansive as four meters, with his longest ever, made for the lobby of an international airport, measuring fifteen meters) project a power and impact rarely encountered in contemporary illustrative works.
Through figurative motifs and bright, flashy colors, Delaprée infuses a joyful, healing quality into every illustration. Each unites careful constructs with a creative spontaneity. These compositions, use of flora and carefree characters seem at first glance whimsical. Yet upon contemplation, one finds a deeply personal narrative that suggests a celebration of life in harmony with nature. At once fragile and powerful, these creations portray a universe that connects artist to admirer on an elementary level — “a world seen through a child's eyes,” explains Delaprée. His pieces have been displayed in venues around the world.
The work of Julia Ennis is an expression of spirituality and essential self. Through figure painting, mezzotint prints and sculptural “boxes,” the artist explores the spiritual dimension of her own life and that of others, breaking through the shield of personality that keeps humans from understanding one another and realizing the interconnectedness of all people. Like the expressionistic artists who have influenced her, such as Käthe Kollwitz, James Ensor and Egon Schiele, Ennis uses her work to delve into the human psyche. With dark pigments, bold brushstrokes and reflective, fluid materials, she portrays layers of reality in a single image. Some of these layers include destructive emotional patterns such as defensiveness, fear and delusion. Yet beyond these feelings, Ennis believes, is the essential spirit of a person. She hopes that her work will inspire people to not be afraid of their true selves and to “conduct espionage on their own minds.”
A Colorado-based artist, Ennis possesses a BFA in Studio Art and Art History from Colorado Mesa University. She has traveled the world and is inspired by the people she meets.
Semen Eruntsov’s assertive, graphic artwork swings effortlessly from representative to abstract, often within a single image. Eruntsov’s inspirations are numerous, from the human body to natural phenomena to purely visual patternwork. He works in acrylic, oil, or pastel, depending on the physicality of the piece. With streamlined planes, bold color contrasts, and a simple central, tightly-framed composition, Eruntsov highlights one element per canvas. That element may be the subject itself – a vibrant depiction of the moon in the sky, or the visual pun of a human hand covered in quasi-camouflage paint. It may be a technique; one work is a canvas filled with a delicate feathering of color. It may be one kind of abstraction, practiced on one object: the paring down of an idea. Whatever the message, each of Eruntsov’s works is imbued with tangible spatial presence and emotional atmospherics.
Eruntsov was born in Russia and today lives in Moscow. He declines to classify his work as any one style or technique, and instead describes it as “pure improvisation.”
Olga Fedorova’s oil on canvas paintings offer a brilliant fusion of contemporary and classic sentiments. Although she names Impressionists such as Monet and post-Impressionists like Van Gogh as primary influences, she also names the Russian “Landscape” artists Isaak Levitan, Alexei Savrasov, Valentin Serov and Ilya Repin as central to her work. Interested in drawing early in her creative development, her practice later on expanded to include experimentation with oil, gouache and watercolor. Currently working primarily in oil, her works strongly reference the genre of still life painting, and deal in depicting a sort of romantic relationship with objects and the earth. Plants, indoor and out, and everyday domestic items are of central import, and Fedorova renders each subject in rich detail. Interested in nature and its inherent harmony and balance, her works dive into the world of dreams and beyond.
Olga Fedorova was born in Moscow, Russia where she still lives and works. She grew up with the arts as a natural and vital part of her life, and, as an adult, in addition to painting she enjoys playing guitar, piano, singing, and professional belly dancing.
Brenda F. Jackson
Indiana artist Brenda F. Jackson is constantly inspired by nature. As a young woman she spent a great deal of time horseback riding, which fostered a love of the great outdoors that is still a part of her life and work today. Many of her paintings are developed from photographs she takes on her travels.
Jackson views painting as “a vehicle of ‘speaking my mind,’” which is reflected in her artistic style. With expressive lines and bright, bold colors, these paintings capture the emotions and feelings of the moment. Jackson’s clear interest in light and form gives much of her work the appearance of stained glass, and sometimes the depth of field is so flattened that subjects appear almost abstracted. Whatever she paints, she brings the viewer into the scene, conveying the sensation of the breeze on a crisp fall day, cold sea spray on a rocky beach, or the touch of warm sun in summer. Jackson hopes her work will make people happy or make them think – or both.
Ju Jian’s gorgeous and evocative oil paintings offer an intimate view of contemporary China. These compositions are a mix of nature and human activity, with the breathtaking landscape of southern China at their core. The wheat fields are sun-infused hotbeds of activity, with toiling figures suggested by a few quick strokes. The fishing villages are alive with color and sighted perfectly against the vast sea to give the viewer a sense of space and environment. Though Ju Jian works in a different medium, he implements the fluid techniques of traditional Chinese watercolor painters. His paintings are shaped out of freehand, unplanned brushwork that deliberately avoids virtuoso displays of technical skill for the sake of it. The work achieves a remarkable level of detail and specificity despite embracing what the artist calls the “simplicity” of the ancient practices.
Ju Jian was born in Tengchong County, China and today lives in Qujing City, further east in Yunnan Province. He has exhibited extensively in his home country and is the vice-president of the Qujing City Artists Association.
“Through a combination of the figurative and abstract,” says painter Monica Manfroi, “I create images that allow the mind to explore.” Freedom and exploration are given life in her images, which create bold, vivid patterns and combine a sharp eye for depicting human figures with the ability to give the textures and colors of the paints a commanding presence of their own. Working in oils and acrylics, the artist is adept at employing the intense shades that acrylics provide in her swirling abstractions. However, she also makes the most of the softer tones that oil paints offer — resulting in subtle skin tones and delicate effects of light and shadow. This combination gives her work a rhythmic vitality that keeps the eye engaged.
Manfroi cites the influence on her work of the vibrant Brazilian culture that surrounded her as she grew up, and the colors and sense of movement in her paintings strongly communicate the impact of this environment. “My pieces all have a very distinct energy and passion behind them,” she notes, “and they speak to people in ways that other works are unable to.”
Natso says that her work starts with the colors she chooses, and in her vibrant acrylic on canvas paintings and photographic prints, it is certainly true that colors set the emotional tone. Using shades that range from intense greens and oranges to black and white, the artist gives each of her images a depth that pulls the viewer in. She says that she likes to work in acrylics because of the speed with which the paints dry, allowing her to “create textures and interesting effects.” Applying her paints in bold drips and swirls as well as in delicately rendered patterns, she varies those textures to add to the energy and power of her paintings.
Influenced by Abstract Expressionism and Action Painting, her images integrate her bold palette and distinct textures into free-flowing, dynamic compositions that seem to be in a constant state of motion and change. But for the artist, the ideas behind her paintings are also of central importance. “Most of my creations revolve around human behaviors, emotions and feelings,” she notes. “I consider my work successful when a viewer identifies with the ideas represented.”
The modern Abstract Impressionist paintings of American artist Susan Marx combine formal elements with spontaneous, colorful emotive responsiveness, resulting in paintings as dynamic as they are compelling. She paints outside, en plein air, allowing her to truly experience the landscape and capture what she sees and feels on canvas. Marx inhales nature as she paints, and then exhales her sensations in a truly impassioned creation of color that epitomizes the moment. Her goal is to capture the essence of a painting, the color and the emotion, and leave the rest to the viewer’s imagination, to bring him into the painting. She paints nature but is not limited by it. Above all, Marx has been inspired by the Impressionist paintings of Claude Monet. As Marx herself explains, “They call me Mme. Monet in jest, but they are right. I have inherited the soul of Monet.” She has painted on Monet’s bridge, but has gone beyond, painting impassioned colorful canvases that are in a style all her own.
Exhibited widely throughout the United States, Marx’s work can be found in private collections in the United States and abroad. Susan Marx lives in Orange, New Jersey.
Lively, effervescent color rhythmically pulsates through the paintings of American artist Paula Montgomery. Beginning each composition with a particular hue or design, Montgomery then lets her materials and concept guide her process as she produces breathtakingly exquisite canvases. Primarily focusing on flora as a subject, Montgomery passionately transforms everyday flowers into painterly visual poems. Utilizing either a lithe, expressionistic brushstroke or a purposeful palette knife, the artist boldly applies paints with a poetic flourish. Unwilling to limit herself to traditional materials alone, Montgomery embraces mixed media techniques and materials such as bubble wrap, fabrics and sponges in order to accentuate the abstract qualities of her works. Thus the paintings hover gracefully between abstraction and representation. Elegant and independent, these paintings exude a sense of peace and joy. “If my work can bring a moment of happiness to the viewer, then I feel I’ve accomplished something worthwhile,” Montgomery explains. “I am always looking for that inner expression to make its presence felt in my work.”
Paula Montgomery lives and works in North Carolina, where she has exhibited her work widely.