When Night Falls – Making Embodied Cognition Sublime

by Siba Kumar Das

When Night Falls, installation view detail, Lichtundfire, 2020
When Night Falls, installation view detail, Lichtundfire, 2020

Exhibiting artists: Gretl Bauer, Vian Borchert, Jane Fire, Leslie Ford, Augustus Goertz, Bobbie Moline-Kramer, Robert Solomon, Lenora Rosenfield, Arlene Santana, and Martin Weinstein.

Referencing the Covid-19 pandemic, fiction writer, editor and educator Lisa Lynn Biggar recently said in Critical Read, “Science will find a cure, but art will give us a healing path to follow.” To see how, go to Manhattan’s Lower East Side and visit the Lichtundfire gallery’s sublime show When Night Falls

The show’s curators – Priska Juschka (Lichtundfire) and Robert Curcio (curcioprojects) – have brought together paintings and multi-media works by ten artists from across the U.S. and Brazil. The majority of the art works have been expressly made for the show (July 15-August 8, 2020), in response to a call by the curators to contribute art addressing the awe and wonder that nighttime has long evoked. 

Awe and wonder are primordial, universal emotions that have driven the human pursuit of knowledge, including the embodied cognition of which art is a manifestation. Progenitors of paradigm shifts in science and other human thinking, they are more necessary than ever at times of crisis, such as the present juncture when the world faces simultaneously two existential challenges – climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic – as well as other serious problems. When Night Falls is a most timely exhibit. Through allusiveness, symbolism and ambiguity, the art works on display open up feelings and thinking that unveil new vistas, sometimes unending, sometimes giving glimpses of the unknown or of new possibility, even as they eschew mere instrumentality. They induce in the viewer a profound engagement. 

Indeed, they make me think of the art of Gerhard Richter, which the Met Breuer recently celebrated. I think especially of his late squeegee abstractions. Reviewing the Met show, art historian Susan Tallman spoke of Richter’s art as “an assertion of endless possibility.” I wonder if this insight doesn’t apply to all good art. The paintings of Arlene Santana, Leslie Ford and Vian Borchert suggest worlds beyond themselves, creating as well a feeling of fathomless depth. The resulting psychological and spiritual resonance is akin to an imaginative experience that is at once expansive, boundless and oceanic. Look now at the same paintings in conjunction with Martin Weinstein’s composite paintings that suggest the interplay of perception and memory through painted layers of transparent acrylic sheet. Time now grows inside you, giving your engagement with the four painters’ works the presence of four dimensions. 

Martin Weistein, Peonies and Moonlight, 2020, acrylic pigment on acrylic panels, 11.5 x 14.5 x 5 inches
Martin Weistein, Peonies and Moonlight, 2020, acrylic pigment on acrylic panels, 11.5 x 14.5 x 5 inches
Robert Solomon, Night/country road blue moon, 2019,acrylic, acrylic ink, flashe and felt on canvas, 48x30 inches
Robert Solomon, Night/country road blue moon, 2019,acrylic, acrylic ink, flashe and felt on canvas, 48×30 inches

Two paintings by Robert Solomon sourced from journeying at night on a country road synthesize a serene expansiveness with dread and foreboding even as they bring together broad sweeps of abstraction with glimpses of figuration. The resulting symbolic content creates the very sinews of the aesthetic sublime. The sublime is also in action in Gretl Bauer’s works. Her multi-media object employing paper, thread and gouache with great evocativeness is especially striking, for it suggests light struggling to emerge from darkness. A worthy coda to this discussion is Jane Fire’s digital print literally and metaphorically illuminating a dark rose that NASA grew in 1998 on a space shuttle mission. 

Gretl Bauer_Violet; paper, thread and gouache; 30x19 inches
Gretl Bauer, Violet; paper, thread and gouache; 30×19 inches
Jane Fire, First Rose Grown In Outer Space, 2020, digital archival print mounted on ChromaLuxe Matt
Jane Fire, First Rose Grown In Outer Space, 2020, digital archival print mounted on Chroma Luxe Matt
Augustus Goertz, Folded Universe #3, 2020, mixed media on canvas, 32 x24 inches
Augustus Goertz, Folded Universe #3, 2020, mixed media on canvas, 32 x24 inches

Augustus Goertz’s three mixed-media paintings make you think of the Cosmic Microwave Background, the landmark sign of the Big Bang with which the universe originated 13.8 billion years ago. So sublime was Mt. Blanc to Percy Bysshe Shelley he was moved to write a great Romantic poem in its praise. Goertz seems to be following in his footsteps, inspired by a much vaster cosmic creation, the source of it all in fact. Bobbie-Moline Kramer is also a cosmic artist, imagining, in two paintings, the alignment of the stars at her birth and death. Brazilian artist Lenora Rosenfield looks at the stars through a glass ceiling in her studio, and the two paintings she has contributed to the show are products of her deep gazing. Her deep blue sky is so striking it reverberates in your mind; setting it off from her white stars and the blue-black of her felt backing, she achieves sublimity through the color itself. 

Lenora Rosenfield, Night 1, 2020, fresco and egg tempera on fabric, 35 inch diameter.
Lenora Rosenfield, Night 1, 2020, fresco and egg tempera on fabric, 35 inch diameter.

The frontiers of paint’s possibilities are still being pushed from within painting’s domain. One might even say that a reinvention of the aesthetic sublime is under way. “When Night Falls” is on that cutting edge. 

About the Artists courtesy Lichtundfire:

Gretl Bauer’s sculpted paper works combined with wash, thread, and wood, explore the possibilities of evoking whatever light might be coaxed from within that darkness. 

VianBorchert_NightApproaching_AcrylicOnCanvas_24x24Inches
Vian Borchert, Night Approaching, 2020, acrylic on canvas, 24″ x 24″

The bold gestural strokes barely contained within Vian Borchert’s paintings dramatically seize upon that instant when the day’s blue skies fall to the coming night.

Jane Fire’s digital print represents a unique dark rose that was grown by NASA in the night of space and sponsored by a perfume company to capture its fragrance.  

Leslie Ford_On Pause #9
Leslie Ford, On Pause #9, 2020, Oil Pigment Stick on Panel, 12″ x 12″

Off at a distant, a red horizon bisects Leslie Ford’s series of paintings entitled “On Pause” metaphorically reflecting upon that fall from day to night and regular life to paused life where clarity comes from reflection or reverie.  

A starry studded sky or a view into the sparkling void of the universe, Augustus Goertz’s mixed media paintings combine process and imagination, improvisation and experimentation and the infinite with the eternal.  

Bobbie Moline-Kramer, 11-04-1946, Fort Madison, Iowa, Self-Portrait, 2020. blown graphite dust, oil and metallic acrylic on handmade Japanese paper on wood. 18 x24 inches
Bobbie Moline-Kramer, 11-04-1946, Fort Madison, Iowa, Self-Portrait, 2020, blown graphite dust, oil and metallic acrylic on handmade Japanese paper on wood. 18 x24 inches

One of Bobbie Moline-Kramer’s abstract paintings on paper is a detailed record of the constellations at the date, time and location of her birth, while her other piece with a rendering of a closed eye she imagines how the stars will align at the moment of her death. 

Oscillating between the organic and geometric, Robert Solomon’s abstract pastoral paintings takes us on a nighttime drive down an old country road filled with beauty, however, there’s apprehension in his paintings – you just don’t know what’s beyond the bend or is something jumping out in front of the car.  

Lenora Rosenfield’s circular paintings created specifically for this exhibit are of the stars she stares at through a large glass ceiling in her studio while thinking of Ptolemy who amongst other things was an astronomer that has greatly influenced her painting while at the same time contemplating her quarantine in Brazil. 

Arlene Santana, Untitled, 2020, oil and was on wood panel, 20x20 inches
Arlene Santana, Untitled, 2020, oil and was on wood panel, 20 x 20 inches

The in-studio process of Arlene Santana’s abstract minimal paintings interprets a sense of the impending night at that unknown hour.

Martin Weinstein paints directly onto multiple acrylic panels in plein air from dusk to daylight, observing the same scene over a period of time. By layering these panels in a Plexiglass box structure, he constructs a complete painting that depicts the passage of when night falls. 

For more information and images please contact: Priska Juschka at 917.675.7835, info@lichtundfire.com or Robert Curcio at 646.220.2557, curcioprojects@gmail.com

Lichtundfire is located at 175 Rivington Street, NY, NY 10002. Contact: Priska Juschka, info@lichtundfire.com, Tel 917.675.7835 Summer Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 12 – 6pm and by appointment. www.lichtundfire.com

Exhibition Dates: July 15 – August 8, 2020. Outdoor Reception with Exhibit Viewing: Wednesday, July 15, 5 – 8pm.  Appointments and Walk-Ins must wear a mask and must adhere to NY State Social Distancing Guidelines.

Eozen Agopian at the Greek Consulate (New York)

by Jonathan Goodman

Eozen Agopian, Nicholas Space, 2018
Eozen Agopian, Nicholas Space, 2018, acrylic, thread and fabric on canvas,
100 X 90 cm (39.37 X 35.4”)

Of Armenian descent but born in Greece, where she now lives (with regular visits to New York), Eozen Agopian was educated in the United States – at Pratt Institute for her master’s degree and at Hunter College for her bachelor’s of fine arts. Her recent show, expertly curated by the art historian Thalia Vrachopoulos, The Fabric of Space, at the Greek consulate in New York City, enabled visitors to experience her highly worked art, dependent on cloth and thread, nearly as luminous as a Russian icon but also dedicated to the complex vectors and planes of modernist painting. Continue reading “Eozen Agopian at the Greek Consulate (New York)”

The Cove Pop-Up Exhibition

by D. Dominick Lombardi

Untitled, Raymond J.
Untitled, Raymond J., color pencil on paper

Once in a while I stumble upon an exhibition that really opens my eyes and reorients my thinking and understanding of the creative process. The Cove Pop Up exhibition here in Providence, RI, which includes paintings, drawings, sculptures, ceramics and utilitarian objects, offers a great number of art works by talented individuals who are dealing with varying degrees of debilitating issues. Continue reading “The Cove Pop-Up Exhibition”

The Rich Imagination of Jacques Roch: Sensuousness and Impertinent Play

by Dominique Nahas

Jacques Roch, The Kiss Of The Jellyfish, 1986
Jacques Roch, The Kiss Of The Jellyfish, 1986, acrylic on canvas, 54 x 66 inches

The current exhibition at Kim Foster Gallery in New York City allows us to experience the states-of-mind that pre-occupied, and occupied the late, remarkable artist Jacques Roch (1934-2015). In his notes Roch writes: “… I was born with the condition of the wide-awake dreamer…. The drawn line, clear on a colored ground, held the systems of shapes like a luminous net. The slapstick mood and lushness of color rendered less threatening my private bestiary of violent instincts, bawdy manners, diffuse fears, contagious glee, and even, sometimes, serenity…Continue reading “The Rich Imagination of Jacques Roch: Sensuousness and Impertinent Play”

Photo-A-GoGo

Don Doe, Fille Sans Dot, Fille Avec Dot (2017)
Don Doe, Fille Sans Dot, Fille Avec Dot (2017), giclee, 22 x 15 inches

by Dominick Lombardi

Photo-A-GoGo presents art that has photography as an element, whether it is predominant or used as a minor accent, to show how the creative process now parallels or responds to the ubiquitous social digital/exchange mentality. We have the MIME, Instagram, Snapchat, all the ways we express or project our ideas or self-image – so the photograph, instead of being “worth a thousand words” is now as common as a mosquito in July. However, that does not mean that art or the intention behind it or the imagery utilized is, in the end, benign. Continue reading “Photo-A-GoGo”

Where to Draw the Line at OneWay Gallery

by D. Dominick Lombardi

Stephen Cook, My Disease My Infection (2017)
Stephen Cook, My Disease My Infection (2017), charcoal, oil stick and aluminum paint on paper, 77 ¾ x 61 ½ inches

It was one year ago that I first became acquainted with the work of Stephen Cook and OneWay Gallery. Being in Narragansett, I was not expecting to see much beyond the stereotypical sails and sunsets in any ‘art gallery’, so I was completely taken aback by Cook’s versatility and vigor as a contemporary painter.
Continue reading “Where to Draw the Line at OneWay Gallery”

The Tale of Auguste’s Brain

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, After the Bath (1888)
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, After the Bath (1888), oil on canvas, 25 ½ x 21 ¼ inches, Wikipedia images

by D. Dominick Lombardi

It was probably somewhere around 1987 when I read a quote attributed to Auguste Renoir in an art magazine. I don’t recall the exact passage, but he likened his paintbrush to his penis when discussing why he so obsessed over capturing the erotic aspects of a woman’s flesh. A month or so later I made a drawing, I was in my pseudo Post Modern stage making sculptures that looked like they could have been executed in the nineteen teens, twenties or thirties, and the subject was my interpretation of Renoir’s sensual sentiment about his female nudes. Continue reading “The Tale of Auguste’s Brain”

dArtles

by Steve Rockwell

dArt logo with an image by an anonymous photographer of Joan Mitchell and Jean Paul Riopelle in Chicago, about 1957. Yseult Riopelle Archives. Private collection © Estate of Jean Paul Riopelle / SODRAC (2017)

It has been nearly 15 years since dArt magazine has stuck its digital fingers into the design and look of its online presence. It’s hardly late-breaking news that the torrent of information flowing through our devices is ever-massing. Its invasive waves lap freely into our private and public spaces. Continue reading “dArtles”

Mitchell/Riopelle: Nothing in Moderation

Musée national des beaux-art du Québec, Québec City, Québec, October 12, 2018 – January 7, 2018 Art Gallery Ontario, Toronto, Ontario, February 18 – May 6, 2018

by Emese Krunák-Hajagos

On my way to this exhibition I was thinking of Joan Mitchell and Jean-Paul Riopelle as a Golden Couple of a Golden Age. The Golden Age is true. Paris still had its charm and New York was rising into its future glory. Riopelle was a golden boy, irresistible and charming with his expensive race cars – including Bugattis – boats, properties and artistic success. Mitchell was a very confident person, athletic and not shy about her body at all. Looking at photographs with her lovers we can’t miss seeing the sexual magnetism radiating from her. It was a good match in many ways, but they were everything but a golden couple. Continue reading “Mitchell/Riopelle: Nothing in Moderation”

Ways of Marking – Mohammed Kazem at Aicon Gallery in New York City

by Siba Kumar Das

Located on a quiet street slowly stirring into economic life after years in the doldrums, Aicon Gallery has taken on a task that surely would have pleased Andre Malraux. Novelist, art theorist, Minister of Culture under Charles de Gaulle, Malraux said half a century ago, “In our imaginary museum [that is, the world of art] the great art of Europe is but one great art among others …” Continue reading “Ways of Marking – Mohammed Kazem at Aicon Gallery in New York City”