Color and Intent in Abstraction
In Part-Two of the Theory of Color, we direct our attention to color and the artist’s intent through abstraction. The works themselves without references to people or objects in the external environment. As a result, the viewer uses the most apparent element - color, to interpret the work through their impressions; memories associated with the colors they view. Featuring works by Saya Behnam (Iranian-American), Robert Schoenfeld (American), Kikuko Morimoto (Japanese) and Caleb Nichols (American), Artist’s Proof will be presenting an exhibition that brings into question how we interpret and conceptualize the world around us.
Saya Behnam (Iranian-American) works intersects between three artistic movements: Western Abstract Expressionism, Chinese ‘Literari’, and Persian Calligraphy. Even without speaking Persian (Farsi) the viewer’s eyes stay active, stretching across the paper immersed in the harmony and balance of the curves that highlight the languages tendency toward natural forms. Lyrical and artistic in their own right, Behnam repeats the Farsi calligraphy of hasti (“To be”) and hastam (“I am”). These conjugations of “being” visually connect to the other elements in Behnam’s work. Combined with the Chinese ‘literari’ aesthetic, which scholars in Japan and China employ the application of ink to express their personal feelings rather than demonstrate professional skill, Behnam captures the exaggerated elements of Chinese composition and brushwork, with the combination of organic qualities of the Persian language. Reinventing the traditional approach to these historical art movements, she reveals a part of herself while creating a distinctly unique aesthetic.
Saya Behnam Demonstrating her process
Saya Behnam shows a gallery visitor the raw spices and flowers before they are crushed and soaked to create her pigments.
Chinese ink, Marajolle Blue, Saffron
By simplifying each stroke she extracts the energy and nature of the brush; transcending them into a visual language. Using unconventional materials, the pigments are extracted from natural flowers and spices such as borage, saffron, tea, as well as stones and minerals found in nature. These ‘natural’ colors are prepared and behave differently than synthetic paints. Sourcing materials from around the world, Behnam can pinpoint where a particular flower was sourced as each produces a different color due to the variations of weather, soil, and location. Sourced at a specific moment in time and location, each painting is truly unique and can never be replicated. There is a true art to this process of allowing different natural elements to fuse depending on how long they are allowed to be absorbed in the water, thus adding to the complexity of Behnam’s work.
The influence of meditation transcends through Behnam’s work – not only through her combination of natural elements but in the process of her painting. Each brush stroke is unique to the artist’s hand and deeply relates to how she is feeling at the moment. Using her breath as a guiding tool of the organic medium, this technique allows the natural stigmas of saffron to fall in unique patterns. The canvas becomes “a receiver of my breath of life, capturing its essences in a gentle spray of color and form. This is a true co-creation with nature,” explains Behnam
The dripping colors, natural shapes and layered transparency in her work allow the complexity of each of these cultures to shine. Those emotions carry through the work as the viewer becomes fascinated with the quick brush strokes and the intricacies of the various colors. With over 25 years of experience, Saya Behnam’s work explores the multi-faceted approach to exploring Eastern and Western cultures combined. Her works have been featured in the Iran Contemporary Museum of Modern Art and she has participated in programs at the Corcoran School of Art in DC.
Kikuko Morimoto, born Kobe, Japan, currently resides in New York City. Her work is a reflection of these two cultural influences and a personal journey of self-discovery and meditation. Working with high-quality Japanese paper, she reintroduces the tradition of craftsmanship that stretches back centuries. Through her dynamic use of highly saturated colors, her abstract work draws a connection between the of rich colors used in Japanese kimonos to the New York discipline of color theory which arose in popularity in the late 1940’s through 1960’s under artists like Josef Albers and Ellsworth Kelly. Kikuko’s carefully arranged compositions are intentionally organized to find beauty and freshness in the interplay of color.
Detail of Adagietto
Detail of Sturm and Drang
Detail of Sturm and Drang
Morimoto uses colors to reflect organic feelings she has at the moment. Morimoto’s compositions combine similar colors in a piece to indicate a sense of serenity and quietness or layer complimentary colors in a polychromatic painting to express a feeling of excitement or urgency. Her use of paper gives the work a unique textured feel and adds three-dimensionality to the works. Morimoto uses her art to connect with the mystery and fluidity that she feels while meditating. Meditation allows her to connect with what lies deep inside herself and the essence of what makes her unique.
Other artists to be featured include recent additions to the gallery watercolor painter Robert Schoenfeld and glass artist Caleb Nichols.
Schoenfeld's abstract watercolor pieces elicit a specific vibration that has a profound effect on the emotions and mood of the person viewing the composition. By placing a variety of colors together, the power of this effect is enhanced. As he paints, Schoenfeld select colors that create a healing visual environment of beauty, joy, power, refinement, sensuality, transcendence, serenity, and delight. Schoenfeld’s work has been collected throughout the United States and Internationally; Including Nordstrom, IBM London, Sheraton Hotel China, and Boeing Corporate offices.
Caleb Nichols | Silhouette
Caleb Nichols, influenced by Japanese art, creates glass that is distinctive of it rough dynamics, with many pieces reaching sizes beyond 30 inches in width. To create his work, Nichols uses a combination of blowing and fusing. He blows vessel forms, hits them with a hammer, and then joins the choice pieces together into a different composition. The color sync is discovered to be in harmony and casts a prism of light beyond the physical sculpture furthering this discourse on color and the viewer's reaction .