About Abstraction: Bay Area Women Painters
September 24 – December 17, 2017
Political conversations have turned a renewed spotlight on women and their power and influence on every corner of society, including the arts. In the spirit of continued discovery, About Abstraction: Bay Area Women Painters celebrates 16 Bay Area women artists, emerging and established, who have worked in abstraction for years. There is no monolithic visual definition of abstraction, and this show provides a platform for a breadth of work that features precise, powerful lines, as well as gestural patterns.
While Bay Area art history is rooted in figurative art, the past few decades show us that abstract art is flourishing. The work in About Abstraction suggests a kinship with the Abstract Expressionist movement of 1940s SoHo and San Francisco, and illustrates the enduring vitality and power of nonrepresentational art for well over a century.
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Lorene Anderson, Eva Bovenzi, Donna Brookman, Heather Day, Amy Ellingson, Linda Geary, Rebekah Goldstein, Emanuela Harris-Sintamarian, Danielle Lawrence, Naomie Kremer, Michelle Mansour, Alicia McCarthy, Mel Prest, Cornelia Schulz, Michele Théberge, Canan Tolon
Some artists in the exhibition – such as Cornelia Schulz – boast a direct link to the Abstract Expressionist genre. Schulz now works with oil straight from the tube, using pallet knives and spatulas to build up thick lavish layers of paint. While it’s still wet, the paint is pushed and flipped with unabashed, dramatic gestures, producing a physical landscape of pigment, form, shape and color.
The artists in About Abstraction present strikingly different approaches to work, though nearly half share an interest in concepts of land, experience, memory (or some combination) as a spur or a source of inspiration. Several make work based-on or inspired by some kind of physical reality—a particular place, or object, or action. Linda Geary, for example, has a studio in West Oakland and makes paintings that reference local architecture, urbanscape, and brightly colored homes from cupcake pink and pastel purple to a spring green.
The towering ten foot scroll-like paintings by Donna Brookman—infused with memory and place—epitomize the power and force of nature. We are dwarfed by a magnificent, almost frightening rush of paint, built-up with wild gestures covering the canvas top to bottom. To create this perfect storm, Brookman folds the wet painting onto itself to create a tangled symmetry and give order to the image. Built into the armature of her paintings are a rage of emotion and frenzied movement; Brookman paints with deep passion for the survival of humankind.
Creating large-scale paintings that whirl with color, texture and movement, Lorene Anderson finds inspiration from nature’s elements: wind, water, land and the cosmos. Anderson’s work is busting with an expanding space, a luminous shifting light and a sense of infinity. The paintings are almost kinetic, reflect the essence of nature—both macro and micro. While Anderson’s work is refined and seemingly controlled, Naomie Kremer is at the raucous end of the spectrum. Her paintings are constructed with elayers of gestural brush strokes—large to small—pulsating on the surface like rippling water or sand. Like several other artists, her work is a reflection of land remembered, the mood or memory of place. Kremer’s dialogue with paint is intense and her rhythmic, commanding brush strokes create the illusion of an ancient landscape.
Taking elements from a wide range of styles, such as op art, expressionism, minimalism, or layering different styles together, the artists in About Abstraction are extending a vital and dynamic dialogue about what abstraction can do and be today.