Territory of Abstraction, Steve Baris

Territory of Abstraction, Steven BarisDrift E2, oil on canvas, 48″ x 48″, 2015

Territory of Abstraction, Painting | Work on Paper | Sculpture at Pentimenti Gallery

Pentimenti Gallery has a way of presenting difficult contemporary art in a comfortable and understandable way, so that the artwork can feel strangely weird yet compelling and beautiful. Abstract art has become synonymous with contemporary life and people aren’t afraid to just contemplate the art and not try to ‘get it’ anymore. I remember when I was in 2nd grade announcing at the dinner table that I wanted to be an abstract artist. My Dad freaked out! I was in love with Jackson Pollack at seven years old and dreamed of living the beat life they showed in Life Magazine. Now abstract art is embedded in our culture like space walks, rock and roll and mini-skirts.

March First Friday in Old City was deserted, the nasty weather had cleared the streets of the vendors and gallery goers. Visiting Pentimenti Gallery without the crowds is quite absorbing and challenging, the current group show, Territory of Abstraction, is eye-popping and soothing at the same time. Steven Baris‘, Drift E2, is painted in bright greens that are simultaneously acid and cool, with the pentimenti of the composition fading into view through the layers of color. I asked Steve about painting with such bold color and he said he likes to start with something really harsh and then tame it into shades that are easy on the eyes.

One of Steven Baris‘ paintings is in the lobby of Jefferson at the Navy Yard, a beautiful, modern medical building with a soaring lobby and excellent art collection. I took the opportunity to thank Steve because when I visit my doctor at the Navy Yard I’m always stressed out, seeing his large, distinctive painting (that I knew came from Pentimenti Gallery) makes me feel like a friend is there with me. The abstraction of the artwork touches my emotions in a way that feels like the positive strength of conviction I felt as a kid.

Territory of Abstraction, Pentimenti Gallery

Territory of AbstractionPentimenti GalleryEnrico Gomez, Gracia Khouw, and Rob de Oude

“TERRITORY OF ABSTRACTION features the work of artists that share an interest in geometry, color, pattern, and repetition. Yet, despite the material and optical similarities each artist approaches their work with a distinct purpose and context, commenting on a variety of subjects such as architecture, space, psychology, and illusion. When put together their work showcases the expansive nature of contemporary abstract art, and the potential content of relatively simple forms.” – Pentimenti Gallery

Territory of Abstraction, Pentimenti Gallery

Territory of AbstractionPentimenti GalleryJoanne MatteraChromatic Geometry series, each 12″ x 12″, encaustic on birch panel, 2014

Chromatic Geometry series by Joanne Mattera flows like a stream through the woods to the hidden cavern in the back of the gallery. The square panels take simple geometric shapes and turns them into stories with the use of color. The repeating shapes are like looking through sky holes in the trees and have a child-like quality that is adventurous and fun.

The paintings are deceptively simple, even though they have an ‘I could do that’ vibe there is so much more involved in the artwork. These paintings are not collage, they’re encaustics using hot pigmented wax to discover deep rich color and razor sharp edges, definitely not DIY. But there is a feeling of the collection being a teachable moment with a message of ease, simplicity and inspiration.

Territory of Abstraction, Pentimenti Gallery, Mel Prest

Territory of AbstractionPentimenti GalleryMel Prest Mirror Cycle, acrylic on panel, 36″ x 36″ x 2″ and Gracia KhouwClosed Circuit Series CC4, 29, acrylic on dibond

This pair of paintings creates a dynamic visual dialog with the visually stimulating painting by Gilbert Hsiao creating moire patterns that fizz and vibrate stirring the visual cortex to a frenzy. From a distance the piece is delicate and decorative but when I got up close the detail and exactness of line is mesmerizing. On the other hand, Gracia KhouwCC4, 29 is quiet and complex communicating with a visual language that reads like a puzzling logo for a product yet to be developed.

The art in Pentimenti Gallery makes me feel like I’m living in the future. Territory of Abstraction draws on the history of abstract art but is about contemporary, of the moment, 21st Century modern life. Abstract art is all around us in commercials, music videos, advertising, TV shows and movies, almost to the point that it’s undetectable but this exhibit reminds us that abstract art not a special effect. Contemporary art and the artists are explaining modernity to us through design, color and line, telling what it’s like to be alive in the now.

Territory of Abstraction, Mel Prest

Territory of AbstractionPentimenti GalleryMel Prest Mirror Cycle, acrylic on panel, 36″ x 36″ x 2″

Territory of Abstraction, Kevin Finklea

Territory of AbstractionPentimenti GalleryKevin FinkleaIt’s My Idea of Love #1, Ocean Park, Santa Monica, 37″ x 47″, acrylic on canvas

“Focused on the subtleties of color and form, Kevin Finklea produces minimalist paintings and wall-relief sculptures that encourage slowness and contemplation, deliberately out-of-step with the pace of contemporary life. As he acknowledges, this aim to slow both viewers and the viewing process “flies in the face of much of contemporary culture. A culture that…is hyper-mediated and completely over-technologized. I believe it [is] both necessary and slightly perverse to make something that demands someone to slow down and spend time with the work.”  –Kevin Finklea artists statement excerpt

Kevin Finklea creates multi-dimensional work even if it’s on a flat surface. Using color and shapes he bends the definition of minimalism to new meanings without looking backwards to the past. The visual dialog between color and shape, depth and breadth, is subtle and peaceful creating a quiet conversation with the viewer that is poetic and intellectual.

Territory of AbstractionPentimenti Gallery, through April 4th, 145 North Second Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106, 215.625.9990, mail@pentimenti.com

GALLERY HOURS: Tuesday by appointment, Wednesday – Friday: 11 AM – 5 PM, Saturday: noon – 5 PM

Like Pentimenti Gallery on facebook

Written and photographed by DoN Brewer except where noted.

Like DoNArTNeWs Philadelphia Art News Blog on facebook

Follow DoN on Twitter @DoNNieBeat58

DoNArTNeWs on Tumblr

DoN Brewer on Pinterest

@donniebeat on Instagram

More DoNArTNeWs at www.brewermultimedia.com

Affiliate Marketing Disclosure Statement

Donate via safe and secure PayPal in the sidebar.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Previous post:

Next post: