In New York City 2014: Synchronicity, artists who have shown their art in New York in the past return to demonstrate the development of their work and, sometimes, the effect that the earlier experience had on their creative process. Powerful, with a commanding presence that insists on being noticed, there is nonetheless a gentler side to the pieces as well, with a sense of humour and optimism often shining through.
Célia Bai Lambert
Célia Bai Lambert’s paintings mix an intensely emotional style with haunting iconography. She uses a highly expressive approach, which she molds according to her own innovation and spontaneity. Some works are only acrylic, while others feature acrylic mixed with sand, watercolor, chalk, and charcoal applied by brush, knife, and hand alike. Pigment is applied with every kind of stroke imaginable: long lines, short bursts, wispy clouds, and dreamily blended gradients. The colors are bright and surprising, not realistic but adhering to their own mysterious logic. Given this kind of style, every subject the artist paints is transformed on the canvas. She paints human bodies that tell their own stories through wildly bent posture, twisted faces, and the explosiveness of their textures. She allows a face to be obscured by pooling paint, or a body to literally radiate streaks of light. Backgrounds are left white; the figures speak for themselves.
Célia Bai Lambert was born in Maputo, Mozambique, grew up in Portugal, and today lives in Switzerland. She has exhibited all around Europe as well as in the United States.
Having worked as a painter and a sculptor, Doug Bootes says that in his paintings he is “seeking a weightless combination of those experiences.” The artist cites Alexander Calder as an inspiration, and Calder’s sense of openness, space and balance can be seen in the images that Bootes creates. These works exhibit a refined style of composition that is animated by strong movement. The artist describes the effect of his work as “a feeling of undertow, being swept along.”
But the forcefulness in Bootes’ work exists hand-in-hand with a subtle eye for color and texture. Juxtaposing “intense concentrations of color” with muted pastel shades, he lets his colors create the appearance of light while also giving each image a vivid three-dimensionality that makes even the most abstract work seem thoroughly physical and present. That physicality is also seen in what Bootes calls the “surface tension” in his work. Placing “layer upon layer until a glimpse is given of what lies beneath the surface,” he encourages the viewer to be contemplative as well as active, creating a compelling, complex mood.
Brazilian photographer Marcio Pilot’s images are sensual explorations of shadow, line and texture that abstract the female body, turning it into rolling hills, moonlit plains and unexplored landscapes. As he explains, he views his photographs not as erotic imagery but rather as an exploration of the unreal - he wants the women he photographs to look almost like sculptures. These photographs create the illusion that if the viewer reached out and touched the subject, they would feel the coolness of bronze or marble instead of the warmth of human skin. Paradoxically, this only enhances the seductiveness of Pilot's images.
A former sound technician for the Chorus Line in Rio de Janeiro, Pilot is particularly fond of working with dancers and trying to capture the movement of dance in his photographs. For this artist, dance consists of sound, light and beauty. Even in photographs where the subject is obviously lying still, his images are still evocative of these three elements. Pilot says that what he loves most about creating art is the personal awareness that people are seeing the world through his eyes.
Painter Navah Porat’s current work revolves around the theme of waiting. Whether waiting for the bus, a lover, or for something more intangible, Porat is intrigued by the amount of time humans devote in their daily lives to simply waiting for something to happen. She takes photographs of people waiting and then brings them back to her studio, where she reinterprets them according to her unique style.
Born in Italy, raised in Argentina and currently residing in Israel, Porat recently completed her MA with a thesis titled, "The Aesthetics of the Body of Fat Women in Art.” Porat says much of her work focuses on fat women, not as a statement of social antagonism or ideology, but because she sees corpulent bodies as aesthetically beautiful objects that convey self-confidence, humor and erotica. Something that comes across in all her work, regardless of its subject, is the artist’s strong interest in form and space. Her current series on waiting allows her to paint abstract, non-narrative spaces while exploring the body as an object d’art, almost as if she was painting still lifes instead of portraits.
Hein van Houten
Dutch artist Hein van Houten’s action paintings are bold, colorful and expressive, bringing the chaos of urban street life into the gallery space. Inspired by cartoons, caricature and the gestural spray painting of graffiti, the painter seeks to inspire his viewers to follow their childlike impulses. Like Jackson Pollock, van Houten’s method is to place his canvases on the floor and move around them as he paints, working by instinct and inspired by the moment and his surroundings. It is for this reason that the artist prefers to paint on stage or at festivals, viewing his working method as a performance that captures the audience.
Hein van Houten began painting after the company he worked for went bankrupt, trading his finished pieces to pay bills. It is perhaps because of this circumstance that there is a roughness, a wildness to his creations which reflects part of the nature of life itself. Yet there’s also a sense in his art of rising above the chaos through sheer will and irrepressible vigor, which makes van Houten’s work hopeful and appealing. As he himself describes his art, “It’s pure raw Dutch energy!”