Figure Studies and Banyan Trees:
Photographs by Tony Gonzalez
September 12 - October 27, 2006
Co-sponsored by the Queens College Department of Art
Gallery talk: Tuesday, September 12, 2006, 5:00 - 6:00 pm
Reception: Immediately follows, 6:00 - 8:00 pm
In two recent series of photographs that combine vintage printing with digital technologies, the artist explores organic forms and investigates the tension between literal and abstract images. Figure Studies, shown here for the first time, are studies of the human body, each 12 x 16 inch photograph digitally printed from a scanned, 4 x 5 inch black-and-white negative. The resulting images, Gonzalez says, "combine the contour elements of a line drawing with the subtle tonal quality of a photograph."
The earlier Banyan Trees series, in which Gonzalez first developed this formal and metaphorical investigation, was shot with 35mm black-and-white negative film using an old Kodak stereo camera. The negatives were scanned and digitally printed using archival monochromatic pigments. Visitors view the 3 1/2 x 7 inch prints using a replica of the stereoscope designed by Oliver Wendell Holmes, which offers a three-dimensional effect that enhances the spatial and sculptural qualities of the trees.
Of Banyan Trees, Gonzalez says:
This series combines 19th century optical devices with 20th century camera and materials, along with 21st century technology. With this series I am also pursuing my fascination with realism as it is achieved through the stereoscopic effect. In this digital age of virtual reality, the stereoscope offers the viewer an experience that is more active and less passive. The effect of looking though a stereoscope makes for a most intimate and private experience. The viewer, who is in effect wearing blinders, "enters" the image without outside distractions.
This work reflects my interest in the tension between literal and abstract images, as well as the relationship between sensuality and sexuality as it is evidenced in nature. With their intertwining "limb like" roots and branches and various textured surfaces, the banyan trees provided the perfect subject as metaphor. In some images the trees are like figures draped over one another; in others, the tree bark suggests the surface of some undefined creature, while others appear as though they might be human organs of some kind. In addition, the markings on some of the trees function as tattoos or scars, referring to the trees’ own history and in turn giving them a certain personality.
In these sensitive studies, Gonzalez explores his subjects through light, surface and form, just as he did in his early drawings and paintings. Figure Studies are, in his words, "the result of a dual interest I have in both photography and drawing. Instead of using a pencil or a piece of charcoal to render line and contour, I use a camera to help me achieve my ultimate goal: to create images … observed or inspired by memory." The unusual techniques that Gonzalez employs, coupled with richly charged themes, open his photography to insights that transcend the medium.
Gonzalez is a graduate of The Cooper Union School of Art (BFA, 1987) and Yale University (MFA, 1989). He has taught at Burlington County College in New Jersey and at The Cooper Union, Pratt Institute, and New York University. He is currently on the Queens College art department faculty.
Gonzalez’s photographs have been shown in numerous exhibitions throughout the United States, most recently this summer by the Cheryl McGinnis Gallery in New York City, and are represented in public, corporate and private collections. His work has been published in articles in Professional Photographers of America, Photographer Forum, Nueva Luz, The Futurist Magazine, The Landmarks of New York, and in monographs, exhibition catalogs and reviews. He has received awards from the New Works Photography Competition sponsored by En Foco (1996), Photographer’s Forum Magazine (Award of Excellence, 1991), the City Without Walls Gallery (1990), the Ward Cheney Memorial Award (1989), as well as a Ford Foundation Fellowship (1987-1989).
Oil and tempera on canvas
20 x 48 in.
Fits and Starts
Pencil, resin, mylar on panel
32 x 32 in.
In their pictorial language, each artist bridges diverse environments. Detrani creates an uneasy interaction between "natural" and constructed space, and Maczynski connects the meditative experiences of the Western and Eastern traditions.
Geoffrey Detrani creates works that conjoin images of reconfigured botanical or landscape imagery, with symbols such as insignias and flags, in a re-contextualized pictorial space. By creating an uneasy interaction between the psychological imperatives of our natural and constructed environments, his work challenges the viewer’s perceptions. Of his recent work, Detrani says that it
…evokes landscape as a primary form, without the bracketing context of naturalism or illusion…The central theme of my work is the subjective perception of place, both physical and existential, and the relative sense of isolation of the subject from his/her surroundings.
A visual artist and writer, Detrani is a graduate of SUNY-New Paltz (BA in philosophy, MFA 1996). His work has been exhibited in Boston, Los Angeles, and New York, including at the former World Trade Center, where he was an artist in residence, and at the Bronx Museum of Art. His artist’s books are in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and his paintings are in public and private collections. Detrani’s creative writing has appeared in many literary magazines, including New Orleans Review, New Delta Review, Columbia Review, Epiphany, Fence, and Massachusetts Review. He has received grants, residencies and other support from such institutions as the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Brooklyn Council for the Arts, the Helen Wurlitzer Foundation, the Jerome Foundation, the Vermont Studio Center and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.
Polish-born artist Jacek Maczynski responds in his work to the cultural diversity of New York City, his adoptive home. Interest in Asian calligraphy and ancient Chinese ink plum painting has led him to experiment with their pictorial idioms and to establish a cross-cultural artistic dialog. He accomplishes this, he explains, by translating Catholicism’s contemplative tradition into the spiritual exercise of Zen Buddhism--in work that is decidedly contemporary and urban.
Describing his work, Maczynski writes: "Using an egg tempera and oil in a monochromatic manner, I make a reference to sacral art of medieval Europe as well as to Asian calligraphy and its meditative ascetic quality…" Using the abstract, geometric motifs of minimalism, which he considers "the most profound of artistic movements in contemporary art," he "brings these three forms of spiritual utterance together to create a cross-cultural meditative pictorial language [that evokes] a concept of sacrum in Western and Eastern tradition."
Maczynski, a visual artist and creator of short films, received his diploma from the College of Photography and Audio-Visual Techniques in Warsaw, Poland. He also studied drawing and painting, which soon became his primary medium. Since 1990 he has worked and lived in the United States--first in the South and, since 1993, in New York. Maczynski’s works have been exhibited in Germany, Poland, and throughout the United States. His short films have been shown at the Galapagos Art and Performance Space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and will screen at Anthology Film Archives in November. He has received grants and residencies from the Helen Wurlitzer Foundation, the Manhattan Graphics Center, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation and the Abraham Lubelski Gallery in New York.
| Between: Woven Images by Betty Vera
February 6 - March 30, 2007
Gallery talk: Tuesday, February 6, 2007, 5:00 - 6:00 pm
Reception: Immediately follows, 6:00 - 8:00 pm
Vera’s work responds to the natural world as well as the human condition in the twenty-first century through her suggestions of shadows and vestiges that evoke a sense of human vulnerability, absence and loss. Although she calls her work tapestries, she goes beyond traditional tapestry techniques and works far more freely. Her process consists of “painting” with threads, whether woven entirely by hand on a tapestry or floor loom using yarns she has painted with dyes, or on a computer-assisted loom that weaves images she has created by manipulating her drawings and photographs on the computer. Both types of work are included in the exhibition.
Vera began to explore digital weaving about six years ago, intrigued by its capacity to render an image with great detail and subtlety. This gives her a different, and complementary, artistic control over the image, enabling her to utilize woven structures of great technical complexity.
According to Vera, her weavings “subtly express perceptions of reality – seen and unseen, experienced and imagined.” In her work, the artist says,
Fibrous forms dissolve into elusive impressions, addressing the shadowy underside of visual experience – traces, residues, and afterimages rather than tactile objects; space suggested, rather than defined; the pulse of life as it is experienced but can never be fully expressed in words.
Vera is a graduate of Montclair State University, New Jersey (MFA 2002) and the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore (BFA 1966). She has also studied Jacquard tapestry and Jacquard weaving, technology and design at Montreal Center for Contemporary Textiles, and woven textile design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, where she currently teaches. She previously taught at Montclair State University, Peters Valley Crafts Center, New England Weavers Seminar, Southwest School of Arts & Craft in San Antonio, Texas, and at other institutions.
Vera’s work has been shown in numerous exhibitions throughout the United States, including solo shows, and in 2006 in an international group show at the University of Hawaii. Her work was deemed Best in Show at the A.I.R. Gallery in New York (2004) and she was Featured Guest Artist at the American Craft Museum (1998). Vera has received grants, residencies and other support from such institutions as the Empire State Crafts Alliance, Artists Space, Handweavers Guild of America, Vermont Studio Center, and Ruth Chenven Foundation. Vera’s tapestries can be seen at the Kitano Hotel in New York City, Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, the Palisades Presbyterian Church in Palisades, NJ, and in public, corporate and private collections. Her work has also been published in leading craft and design magazines and in many books.
Light to Dark:
Paintings and Works on Paper by Margery Edwards
April 17 - June 30, 2007
Gallery talk by the exhibition curator, Jeanne Wilkinson: Thursday, April 19, 2007, 5:00 - 6:00 pm
Reception: Immediately follows, 6:00 - 8:00 pm
View online exhibition
Australian-born and raised, Margery Edwards (1933-1989) lived in Sydney and later in the United Kingdom, East Africa, Italy, and New York. In 1975 she left her ocean-view home in Australia to find her mature artistic vision in a Manhattan loft overlooking the Hudson River. She also left behind her bright palette to immerse herself in an exploration of the moods and modes of black. Her life’s journey was an interior one, a difficult and deeply personal voyage. When she died in 1989, Edwards had created a series of images that trace a path both earthbound and ethereal—in her own words, a “progression through darkness and light.” The exhibition presents Edwards’ New York paintings, collages, and works on paper, charting her exploration of light and dark.
Before arriving in New York, Edwards had developed a subtle but intense personal language of abstract imagery influenced by her first home in Australia. Responding to the color direction of Abstract Expressionists, her sensitive, lyrical, and spiritual work found affinity with Barnett Newman, Helen Frankenthaler, and Clyfford Still. Thrust into the stimulating yet unsettling life of New York City, Edwards internalized the turmoil and gradually translated it into bold, experimental, and difficult work. “For the first time in my life, art was no longer an idealistic expression of how I would like things to be,” she wrote in 1978. “It became an existential statement of how things really appeared.”
Anxiety and tension darkened her palette while new understanding blossomed in a series of black paintings first shown in New York in 1978. “It is strange,” she noted, “that out of disturbance and fear have come the strongest works I have ever done.” Finding elusive peace through her art, Edwards produced a rich body of work in the early 1980s—eloquent organic canvases, collages, drawings, and prints in which she processed the forces at work in her life. Black became an infinite language to express her voyage inward. In a 1985 breakthrough, color born of black began to seep in at the horizons of her paintings, intensifying their darkness and portraying it as a universal constant touched by mysterious presence. Although Edwards’ life was cut short by a heart attack, her art evolved and came to full fruition over her lifetime.
The exhibition also includes works on paper, which for Edwards functioned as a spontaneous, visual diary. Her art sprang from a place within her, yet she was also influenced by life’s events and experiences, her reading, and many 20th-century artists, including Robert Motherwell, Ad Reinhart, Antoni Tapiès, and particularly by the shadowy and spiritually resonant late paintings of Mark Rothko.
Edwards used the essential, earthly elements of art—form, color, composition—to elegantly and expressively illuminate a spiritual and emotional journey. To Margery Edwards, black was an origin, not a lack of light. Her last black paintings depict a place not of hiding but of comfort, enclosure, and peace. We will never know what she might have accomplished had she lived longer, but the work she left behind seems complete. It was the journey that mattered.
Edwards studied in Sydney, at the Brera Academy of Art in Milan, and at the Morley College Art School in London. Her work has been shown widely in Australia, Italy, Canada, and, since 1978, in the United States, including one-person exhibitions at Rawspace, 22 Wooster Street, and Hirondelle galleries in New York, and a retrospective at the Martin Art Gallery at Muhlenberg College, Pennsylvania. Her work has also been shown in many group exhibitions in the greater metropolitan area, upstate New York and New Jersey, and at the Australian Embassy in Washington, DC. She was Artist-in-Residence for the Space Shuttle Discovery in Cape Canaveral, Florida in 1985 and 1988, and her work has been discussed and reprinted in numerous essays and reviews. Edwards is represented in the world’s major collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the National Gallery of Canada, the Neuberger Art Museum, the National Art Gallery of Australia, and numerous other public, corporate, and private collections.