Hillyer Art Space
"This is a small survey of work done by students who craft honest, expressive responses to the world they observe and live in. Life trumps art, but art insists, sometimes with bravado and sensuality, sometimes with subversive humor and humility, on being considered for what it is: one of the few great disciplines which merits a lifetime of study." -Curator, Judy Southerland
Participating artists include Adam Void, Aselin Lands, Autumn Moran, Brittany Moore, Cathleen Sachse, Dan Perkins, Dandan Luo, Larry Cook, Paullette Palacios, Peter Miller, Rebecca Harlan, Samantha Fein, Samual Scharf, Temme Barkin-Leeds, Travis Poffenberger, Veronica Melende, and Wesley Clark.
Dandan Luo, Brittany Moore, Aeslin Lands, Wesley Clark
Also at Hillyer...
Curatorial mentor for Erin Bernard's first solo show...
Erin Bernard: Rolled Dice and Flicked Matchsticks: May 2012
At the Austrian Embassy...
Klimt, Kaiser, Peschev
with Anelia Peschev...
The following essay was commissioned by the Austrian Cultural Forum on the occasion of Gustav Klimt’s 150th birth anniversary. To celebrate this event, the Austrian Embassy brought Viennese fashion designer Anelia Peschev and her 2011 “Klimt Florum,“ spring collection to Washington and mounted a large exhibition of Ulrike Kaiser’s recent paintings. It was my pleasure to curate the show which ran from April 19-June 15, 2012.
Flow(er)ology: Klimt, Kaiser, Peschev
This year is the 150th birth anniversary of Gustav Klimt, the extraordinary painter and designer who, around 1900, played a decisive part in the international breakthrough of Art Nouveau. As a founding member of the Vienna Secession, this son of a goldsmith became a seminal figure in the birth of modernism--his images of women in particular made manifest the revolutionary sensibility of an entire era. Klimtʼs influence flows forward today, nourishing the work of painter Ulrike Kaiser and fashion designer Anelia Peschev, and provides a context for ideas about body and image expressed in the work of these two contemporary Austrian artists.
As a painter Klimt was a master at organizing spacial masses which in turn were broken into fields of intricately patterned shapes and symbols. He took on grand themes and presented sumptuous allegories as well as intimate portraits which could include foreboding signifiers reminding the viewer of loss and pain, even while the work presented tactile beauty and sensuality. While the female body was a primary inspiration, Klimtʼs women are often absorbed by the fields of decorative elements and body image may appear fragmented and stylistically isolated from natureʼs signifiers.
The quest to balance and unify subject and ground runs through the history of western painting. When Ulrike Kaiser picked up a camera to record images of friends and family as models for paintings, she mentions the camera as a ʻwallʼ between her eye and the subject. Her process was discreet, but the artist zoomed in close, painted large, and concentrated on flowing surface patterns and popping color contrast to convey expressive, tactile interpretations of faces and places. Her process required careful looking and she expanded her interpretive vocabulary when she used magnolia pods to kick-start a series of paintings which ultimately hover between abstraction and curve-based figurative form.
In 2010, upon moving to Washington, Kaiser decided to pursue formalized fine art
studies at the Corcoran College of Art + Design. Using oils for the first time, the artist
took this opportunity to explore processes which finally resulted in a moody, atmospheric interpretation of space and an expansion of her vocabulary in addressing volume. She took the image of the female body and embraced it from the inside out. While Klimtʼs images of his pregnant model Mimi present her body in profile—Mimi observed-- Kaiserʼs “Aphra" series gives us a vision of hybridity. Using the organic curves and strange forms of the ear canal, the artist, herself pregnant with her first child, presents a translation of her impulse to listen to her body. These are declarative, sensual images embedded with the knowledge that we all submit to cyclical processes. This hybrid creature gazes at the viewer directly, creating a visual narrative reminding us of a search for balance with, and within, nature.
Kaiser actually began her oil series with “Inge,” an image of domestic work imbedded in a secondary but dramatic natural setting. Vibrant color contrasts are balanced with the use of atmospheric darks and lights which convey mood and put the subject in a particular context. Kaiserʼs oils are smaller than her acrylic paintings but in a way, more concentrated. She brought forward the subject of vivid red magnolia pods, and produced ʻFructiferous Hybrid,ʼ an erotic image, both luscious and dramatic, which manages to carry within it a kind of powerful stillness. “City,” with its floating grids and giant-scale female reflections, uses atmospheric perspective and luscious landscape painting to keep us looking while we absorb slowly the fundamentally political image.
Kaiserʼs newest work is a series of large acrylic paintings inspired by her infant
daughter, Anabel. Referencing air, earth, and water, these works suggest a sweeping
and expansive view of the grand elements on which we depend to hold and sustain all things dear to us. We are reminded that an understanding of underlying patterns and processes in nature, translated through culture, help us make our way, help us move a bit more easily, with earthʼs flow(er)ological rhythms.
Freedom of movement and crossing boundaries found expression in the idea of dress reform in Secessionist Vienna. The new free-flowing designs for both women and men were central to the expression of a different lifestyle philosophy, and in the call for freedom in womenʼs affairs. Together, Klimt and his lifelong friend the designer and entrepreneur, Emilie Flöge, created dress designs which rejected constriction and celebrated the bodyʼs ease of movement within a refined, decorative style of apparel.
Anelia Peschev embraces this philosophy and brings it forward with a new spring collection titled ʻKlimt Florum.ʼ The designer takes Klimtʼs languid, sensual interpretation of female body image and imagines a collection with such a light physical touch the clothes appear constantly animated by the body wearing them. And yet the dresses are so elegant and rich! The material choices, along with designs celebrating comfort (even as the cut of the cloth skims and rests with the bodyʼs curves) allow any embellishment to touch so lightly on the fabric we sense the body moving with, even through, an envisioned environment.
On show, the collection begins with a neutral palette and features designs showcasing Pechevʼs mastery of line and understanding of light in relation to transparency and opacity. Her work reminds us of the genius of Klimtʼs line in exploring and finally expressing, vibrant form. These clothes are about form come to life. Subtle details complete the whole as the simple idea of walking is featured in tandem with the presentation of the dresses. As the collection moves carefully through chosen notes of color, we realize the designer displays an understanding of hue and value found in great gardens. As in nature, balance and symmetry are in conversation with changing rhythms and asymmetrical detail. Viewing the collection we remember the role that atmosphere plays in our perceptions of color. This artist softens color when necessary and develops the theme fully, only to follow it with the design of a dress so vibrant we think about pure red or blue in a fresh way.
When Peschev introduces pattern, the floral motifs have been distilled and a way considered for full integration of part to whole. The rhythmic designs take center stage by rolling and shifting while simultaneously disappearing in and out of folds as the body glides. Klimtʼs gold, when it appears, shimmers so lightly it reads as much of light as of color. Natureʼs patterns and details, throughly envisioned and designed, still feel somehow deposited by larger forces, by the wind perhaps. These dresses are airy and elegant resting comfortably on confident bodies. This idea of craft at its highest level (such a pleasurable flower) and the contextualized ideas expressed through this inspired collection, leave us with images of the perpetual flowering of the human body. Peschev celebrates beauty and the changes bourn within it.
Embassy of Chile...
"What compels artist Yayo Tavolara to tear into things? She does it on purpose--cutting
and ripping things open. And her camera? She turns it on herself.
To what purpose? It all risks being a bit of a mess. Some of the rips are stitched up and
repaired, some of the cuts make new building blocks, but all these actions insure that
things will not be the same.
Seeing evidence of Yayoʼs processes we realize she has created portals and released
energy and information. She organizes bits and pieces and builds new containers for
what she ﬁnds.
Yayoʼs work calls attention to the tenderest of membranes and to our efforts to thicken
our skins. The narrative images in the paintings and videos emerge from the artistʼs
willingness to go through the portals that end up being hers. The work reminds us to
look into the dark holes that end up being ours, all in order to learn and understand
before we stitch things up and move on. "
Curator Judy Southerland