I have always been visually drawn to human faces and heads – the eyes, nose mouth, hair and skin. A face can tell so much about a life lived, evidence common family traits, and connect us to each other. The head is where our consciousness lies. It houses the intellect and sits atop the body.
Sometimes illness, age, and disease rob us of our ability to recognize the ones we have spent our lives with - forgetting and losing our history; our children, friends and family are no longer recognizable. There comes to the eyes a searching to try to recognize or make sense of what we are seeing and try to remember a common connection.
The paintings and drawings in this series are not of any particular person or portrait. They are faces and heads that I have discovered as I worked on each piece.
For the drawings I began by pouring charcoal powder onto paper and then pressing two sheets together. With the paintings I began by pouring paint onto the canvas and then allowing it to drip and move across and down the canvas. I then worked to find a face that emerges from the mark making itself.
It is my intention with this work to search out and capture that fleeting moment when two souls see and encounter each other and for that brief second they try to recognize something common or familiar about their connection.
CYNTHIA Y. COOPER
My work is a constant exploration of “how things look from the inside,” which I find is often quite different than how they look from the outside. Specifically, I am fascinated by light, grids, happen-chance and juxtaposing movement and stasis. My aim is to blur the line between figural and abstract subject matter; the paintings show something real but they can also be read as complete abstractions. The luminous colors and shimmering surfaces reflect the constantly changing light; the paintings themselves change, thereby changing the viewer’s perception as well.
For me, a painting's potential for immediate change acts as a liberating agent: I concern myself with gestures and colors that feel necessary in a given moment, rather than the final image. A build-up of truthful marks guides me to conclusion. Despite any and all research informing the works, I cannot minimize the importance of intuition in my practice. I am stirred by travel and new landscapes, and the key structural elements in my paintings reference and natural world, for instance, weather patterns, tectonic shifts, fields in bloom. I intentionally paint "big" so that I feel overwhelmed by my own paintings, much as I do at the first step of a mountain I wish to ascend.
“ That in which the sun rises and in which it sets, that which is the source of all the powers of nature and of all the senses, that which nothing can transcend- that is the immortal self. What is within us is also without-what is without is also within.” ~The Upanishads
As members of the human race, we are both parents and children. As humans we witness the births and passings of family and friends, and are affected by the laws of physics at work on beaches and in hospital rooms. There are irrepressible forces over which our intellects are powerless; vibrations which connect and carry on. Some of them are quiet, some are invasive, and yet it is the pervasive and ephemeral existence of these forces that forms the quality of our lives.
It is all contact, resistance, and flow.
My sculpture examines the relationship between fixed form and movement: each sculpture suggests the transformation that is possible. I am greatly influenced by the human body, specifically the shapes, gestures, and momentary poses created by dancers. I attempt to infuse their motion into three-dimensional materials. Thus my sculptures are an abstraction frozen in motion.
I search for images that are familiar, poetically allusive, but because I combine the images in unlikely ways, the paintings remain abstract. This gives the painting the intimacy of the familiar but encourages the viewer to actively participate in the analysis of the imagery's connections. It is my hope that this gives the work its resonance.
Rites, rituals and ceremonies in such diverse places as Bali, Kenya, Italy, Portugal and Ireland have influenced much of the work. Witnessing a ceremony for the cremation of a priest in a Balinese village, with its offerings, processions and ceremonial dress has yielded images. So have Irish cemeteries, circus parades in Italy, puppet plays in Indonesia and gambling casinos in Portugal. Rites, rituals, gaming and theater have in common a formal structure within which something idiosyncratic or unpredictable may happen. I think of my paintings as integrating formality and magic.
My efforts concern form. Color and psychology can happen.
Karen Khoury is an abstract/ minimal painter, whose work, on a formal level deals with the inherent qualities and properties of how paint can present itself in both the two dimensional and three dimensional form. For many years Khoury has explored the properties of paint as structure and has most recently explored the idea of the structure of the grid with in the physical structure of paint.
Khoury’s small works reveal a sense of intimacy and a cared for quality. Each piece of paint or paper is manipulated by hand; folded, stacked, cut, rolled, carefully considered and placed. Her work, while very formal is inspired by her role as a wife, mother and caregiver. Khoury’s work honors all in the precarious and ever changing role of the domestic and the historical role of women in culture as the makers of craft.
My work is an exploration of the process of painting, from concept to canvas. The focus is on contrasting elements, creation and destruction, drawing and erasing; conveyed through color interactions, building of layers and revealing the underneath. They are ideas manifested. Moments captured. Inspired both by nature and man made creations. Their meaning is subjective.
I believe that a work of art must stand or fall on it’s own merit. Regardless of whether the art is representational or abstract, it must connect with and engage the viewer on some level. Writing about one’s art is possibly one of the most difficult things an artist may do. Yet, writing about, or discussing one’s art, is as much a part of the process as working in the studio.
I have used the same approach, process, and formal shape as the point of departure and common ground in my art for decades.
My approach to making art continues to explore the conceptual links between Eastern and Western philosophies and the delicate balance of opposites - entropy and order, intuition and reason, flux and permanence, and the intangible and the physical. These dualities seem fundamentally and mutually exclusive, yet they complement one another and permeate every aspect of our lives and world.
The process involves a centuries old method of grinding and combining pure mineral and earth pigments employing both traditional and contemporary means - using brushes, my hands, or whatever tool suits the need of the moment. While aspects of this process have intent and control, there is also randomness. Decisions can be made, but the results are not always linear or predictable. The wonderment of the process is that while there is immediacy in the working moment, there are also times of quiet observation. At some point each piece acquires a life and a voice of its own, which inevitably engages me in a growing dialogue that I cannot disregard.
From a formal standpoint, the square format, unlike the rectangle, makes no associative reference to landscape or portrait. The square simply “is”; an archetypal shape that is stable, static, and passive. From a compositional standpoint, the square is perhaps the most difficult shape to energize.
The paintings do not reflect a literal response to what has inspired me. Rather, they are the embedded sense-memory of colors, textures, materials, surfaces, and the ephemeral quality of light, which surrounds me on a daily basis. My paintings are an investigation into the effects of time and nature on all things, a visual remembrance of countless transitory realities.
My drawings are a hybrid of various human physiological systems and man‐made manufacturing systems, which I depict through rendering abstract networks of forms, lines, and color. Like our internal anatomy, the structures in my works are layered, linear, flowing, clustered, open, dense, intertwined; interpreting gravity, fluids, gases, and pressures. The complex relationship between the man‐made and the natural has become increasing influential in my artwork. The work evolves as I use line, color and layering to create new imagery based on the fascinating inter‐workings of systems both functional and dysfunctional.
In 2010, I closely watched the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico through the Internet live video streaming of the ocean floor. The image of the pipeline seeping oil clearly presented the earth as an organism suffering from a faulty and altered system. This image of the pipeline has become a constant form that I obsessively render in my drawings, paintings and collages, using it as a way to abstractly reference the vast and intricate production systems of industrial landscapes. In the work, I prompt the viewer to examine the ongoing shifting of power between mankind and the earth, and present the intermingling of manufactured man‐made systems and subsurface, biomorphic configurations.
The process of making a painting with the use of untraditional materials has always been the driving force in Wolfe’s work. In these most recent paintings he continues to use cotton drop cloths that you would find in any building supplies store and applies them to panels of wood. The porous quality and imperfections of a drop cloth is what draws Wolfe to this material. As each piece begins to evolve, cutting, patching, and scraping takes place. The final statement is realized when the interplay of lines and shapes create a tension between flatness and depth. Visual elements of Islamic Art, museum artifacts, and the quilts by the women of Gee’s Bend continue to be important sources for these paintings. To a varying degree, the imagery of these paintings combines the patchwork aspects of quilt making and the fragmentary nature of Greek and Roman museum displays with the fluid, interwoven nature of Islamic script.