Audra Lambert is Editor-in-Chief, ANTE mag+curatorial, featuring exhibition reviews, interviews and art features. Founded in 2016, ANTE mag + curatorial is the curatorial force behind exhibitions onsite at The Yard, Williamsburg Bridge in Brooklyn, NY. Featured artists have gone on to exhibit with major galleries across New York City, and open call winners through ANTE mag+curatorial Instagram’s account are interviewed on social media and on our online platform, broadcast to our audience of 10k+.
Sami Davidson’s “Eye Candy” presents a thrilling contrast of painting techniques and tones to create a sweeping and monumental composition that entices the viewer. The composition vacillates between jewel tones and neon washes of color punctuated by meticulous mark-making techniques. Abstract in nature, Davidson’s powerful range of saturated hues spans from diffuse pastel layers of pigment to darker, powerful aggregation of pigment primarily in central areas of the picture plane. The artist notes that they work with color intuitively, and here they present an informed approach to painting in the contrast of colorful washes of pigment foregrounded by sharp, thin curvilinear marks spanning the composition. This visual texture brings an element of latent tension to the forefront in “Eye Candy.” The artwork is the result of careful layering, with disparate yet carefully selected acrylic colors applied with a remarkable range of brushstrokes. The artist’s adroit use of gradient and the dexterity of how the artist employs paint - incorporating a range of processes including drips, scratches and marks, and washes - result in an artwork that viscerally engages the viewer. The presence of the underlying canvas distinctly asserts itself in moments throughout the composition where swaths of bare canvas shimmer through thin washes of pigment. This combination of carefully layered acrylic hues juxtaposed against the hint of canvas beneath titillates the viewer, offering visual dexterity to painting’s observer.
The diffuse, serene light infiltrating Lois Gold's "Landscape III" captures the atmospheric beauty of the natural world, lending it a mystical, ethereal quality. The artist's skillful use of color and loose, free-flowing brushstrokes across the canvas capture an imaginative world that could alternately evoke a scenic canyon hike or a lavender field in the South of France. The artist leaves the exact details of the scene to the viewer's imagination while hinting at a horizon line shrouded in layers of dense greenery. Earthy beige and ochre tones throughout this composition contrast against accents of rich lilac and bright turquoise present in the foreground. The washes of pastel and jewel tones throughout the scene pay homage to the Impressionist school of painting. Cool, dense tones emerge from washes of translucent olive green pigment, suggesting trees and shrubs bathed in warm sunshine. Areas of mark-making and surface accretion create a visual texture across the canvas, alluding to flowers, plants and undergrowth. This deft application of pigment invites the viewer into the painting, allowing them to wander visually across this verdant natural scene. The artist's use of color and the keen contrast of rapid brush work against the soft washes of pigment suffusing the work's surface allows for the viewer to experience an abstracted Spring reverie in this ebullient yet elusive landscape.
Positive and negative space both assert their presence in “Cloak” by Gina Werfel. This careful balance throughout the composition holds the interest of the viewer engaging with this larger abstract painting. This oil on canvas painting offers a complex arrangement of individual elements visible across the picture plane. Paint drips across the surface contrast against washes of bright yet pastel hues of yellow, pink and blue. These washes are punctuated by bright by thick, bold brushstrokes of purple, red and teal. The artist notes that erasure and mark-making are specific aspects of her practice as an artist that impact the manner in which this painting is composed. By eroding away the layers visible in this painting, there are darker underlying marks which are revealed as a result of this process. Werfel’s process and dynamic, assertive brushstrokes hint at the popular 20th century style of abstraction known as action painting, indicating depth and quick movement across the canvas. These sweeping, gestural brushstrokes and Werfel’s decisive style of mark-making make for a compelling composition.
Robert Petrick’s “Controlled Chaos” demonstrates superior line work throughout. This artwork - punctuated by heavy, uninterrupted black brushstrokes - simultaneously appears both graphic and painterly. This oil on canvas painting embraces curvilinear outlines which delineate areas across the picture plane. The artist notes that this is an abstract artwork inspired by experiencing life in New York City. While the weight of line varies throughout the composition, this strong black line work throughout the painting contrasts sharply with the soft washes of pastel oil paint and softer, more subtle, chalky white and blue lines which form a relationship with the heavier black outline. The contrast of hues and linear markings echoes the structures and surfaces found throughout the urban environment. Lighter jewel tones of paint throughout the artwork suggest diffuse light. The curvilinear style present throughout “Controlled Chaos” embraces soft curves, gradients and circular marks in direct dialogue with the 20th century painting movement of Abstraction, centered in New York City. This urban space continues to leave its indelible mark on painters, as is evidenced in this large abstract painting by Petrick.
Jiro Tcholakian’s “The Day I Beheaded My Own Personal Medusa,” a mixed-media work created with acrylic and ink, offers a dizzying composition with formal roots in action painting developed during the abstract expressionist of the 20th century. This juxtaposition of a mostly male-dominated window of time in art history - AbEx painting - with the subject of the painting, sexual violence against Medusa, creates a compelling contrast and adds another layer of interest to the painting from a critical perspective. Snake-like protrusions, created with rough, vivid brushstrokes, emanate from the center of the painting. Jewel tones and contrasting neons, combined with the decisive line work of the composition, exude violence and action. Lighter washes of color frame this graphic collection of thick, active brushstrokes. While darker tones of ink wash form defining moments within this composition, the artist keenly incorporates bright segments of yellow, neon pink and orange paint directly confronting these heavy sections of brushwork. These vibrant and expressive curvilinear forms are layered in careful overlap, intimating at the twisting and turning snakes being dispatched from the head of the Medusa alluded to in the painting. The upward motion which the artist captures in this composition correlates the sense of release referred to in the artist statement, offering the viewer a compelling and active painting while guiding the eye deftly through this vivid tableau.
Gina Werfel’s “Fog” presents a lyrical approach to abstract painting. Buried within the depths of cool grays and blue tones are collages segments of charcoal drawings, breaking the uniformity of the picture plane. Vivid bursts of gestural lines recall prominent 20th century American painters such as Stuart Davis, while these dampened tones - grays, blacks, whites - recall works by de Kooning of Pollock. Translucent layers of acrylic paint conceal and combine, alluding to a foggy scene in this portrait-oriented landscape. The grasp of gestural abstraction extends the legacy of abstraction expressionism in Werfel’s work, while the addition of collage adds visual texture to the scene and hints at surfaces such as buildings, trees and ground. Washes of color are broken into curvilinear areas across the picture plane, folding and bending into one another with grace and subtlety. The sublime balance of the overall composition relies upon the artist’s keen grasp of active mark-making and washes of subtle gradations of grays and blues, interspersed with orange, purple and green brush marks. Organic lines and circular marks hint at the volume produced by areas of fog settling over a landscape. Werfel here presents both the visual tones of fog, its icy white permutations, and also a distinct style of brushwork that hints at the direction and diffusive quality of fog. Bright colors sparingly peeking out from behind the veil of muted tones remind the viewer that an unknown landscape awaits discovery upon the fog’s lifting.