Thursday, February 7th, was a memorable night at Agora Gallery. Many of the featured artists were present at the opening reception for Degrees of Abstraction and Idiosyncratic Expressions. Agora’s curator, Clara Lemaire, comments, “Both shows, which present opposite ends of the spectrum — representation and abstraction — were a joy to curate because of the underlying energy that breathes life into all the exhibited artworks. Another key aspect is the extent to which all of the art provokes a sharp emotional response, whereas each creation also brilliantly inspires contemplation and reflection.” Here’s a sneak peek.
Dinah Cross James has five oil paintings on display in Degrees of Abstraction. Biomorphic forms with curvilinear outlines appear in her paintings, which are likewise imbued with whirling masses of color and soaring lines. The artist describes her technique by stating, “I have used feathers and snake skins, dragged combs through thick oil, used kitchen tools to push paint and I often use a great amount of paint that’s scraped away every day. I teach my techniques and love sharing them.” This technique explains the unique texture that complements her art. Her inspiration is a combination of music, her subconscious, and the different landscapes of the world. Oil Sketch of India #2 is a fascinating example, a lyrical explosion of pure painting.
Warren R Mack has five ink on paper artworks on view in Degrees of Abstraction. The Toronto-based artist is also an architect, and this formal training has a decisive impact on his art. In Mack’s words, “Studying at a school that promoted abstract thinking, theory, design, history, art, and academia in addition to the building process was important; it fueled an environment that was conducive to looking at things differently, being open-minded, taking chances, allowing ideas, technique and design to emerge.” In most of his ink creations, Mack lessens representation to procure the flexibility to enunciate a broader vision. Private Spaces 4 articulates this point perfectly. This piece works on several levels: at first, the gradation of colors and forms impinge upon the viewer and incite an emotional and visceral reaction. Next, the deciphering of the suggested representation, specifically here the intersecting lines that hint at architectural forms, draws in the viewer intellectually. The decryption of these subtle hints, many times reinforced by the works’ titles, substantiate the emotional force of each work.
Australian artist Christine Sellman has eight oil and acrylic paintings on exhibit in Degrees of Abstraction. She allows the painting itself to take on considerable agency. Initially, she has an idea of color and method, but she allows the paint to form its own character as she works. “I’m happiest painting abstract; I love the way it allows the painting to take on its own form and story,” says Sellman, describing the harmonious balance between command and fortuity. Her work also incorporates textual layers – Whimsical Flight has immense depth despite its abstraction, and emits contrasting shades which guide the viewer’s eye across the entire canvas. Although emphasis is not paramount in her paintings, a hallmark in this particular work is the application of deep purple drips, which recall the expressionist action-painting of Pollock.
Richard Bello‘s arresting ceramic, fiberglass, and mixed media sculptures can be viewed in Idiosyncratic Expressions. The human form is visible to a certain extent in all of his works, which are executed in stark ivory and with a high level of technical skill. “The central concept of my work is of rebirth — it is of a rather metaphysical, spiritual nature, conjuring up the power of the viewer’s imagination and letting each individual come to their own conclusion about the meaning of what it is I’m doing in each work,” says Bello. The Temple in You combines Greco-Roman architectural forms with mystical references. The title suggests a theme in the work, which is mostly open for interpretation.
Krzis-Lorent FrédériqueK has nine oil paintings on display in Idiosyncratic Expressions. “I am inspired by Ancient Greek art and the way it regards the human body through sculpture, achieving perfect balance and serenity through a sincere appreciation of the human form”, says FrédériqueK. She likewise applies this to all of her paintings, as she has an incredible skill for treating the human form, fusing enticing emotion and individuality with degrees of realism. Venus is a breathtaking portrait, one which communicates a real personality and a specific identity injected with a pervasively divine aura.
As Clara put it, these shows illustrate opposite ends of the artistic spectrum. There seemed to be something in the shows for everyone, and each visitor who came to Agora anxious to experience the works in the two shows left satisfied and impacted. The exhibits will be on view until February 27th. Experiencing art in person trumps any attempts to describe and capture the essence of each splendid work on display. On behalf of everyone at Agora, see you soon!