Body & Soul: From Exploration to Expression
September 4 – October 27, 2007
Curated by: Serdar Arat
In this exhibition, old and modern masters and contemporary artists explore the human figure as a vessel for the soul. The figurative tradition is represented in painting, sculpture, and photography in works that are a testament to Susan Sontag’s statement: “The more personal the work of art, the more universal it is.”
Of the contemporary artists’ work, Robert Taplin’s sculpture Pluto embodies the essence of this exhibition. The two nude male figures, one translucent, one solid, are inseparable reflections of each other. Suspended in space, they express multiple dualities: terrestrial and celestial; material and intangible; body and soul. In contrast, Icelandic sculptor Steinnun Thorarinsdottir’s aluminum double figures are earthbound, static. Both sculptors create illusions in their work – Taplin defies gravity with light and cables; Thorarinsdottir uses highly polished aluminum to create mirrored reflections. The Berkeley, California-based artist Lia Cook achieves the duality of permanence and transience in textural images, which she creates with rayon or cotton thread on fabric using a digital loom. In Cook’s work, weaving is a reference to fabric that covers the body rather than fabric as the painter’s canvas. Alberto Giacometti’s painting of his brother, Diego, becomes increasingly indistinct as you approach it. At close range the facial features disintegrate. There is a strong sense of solitude in this elongated small canvas, which perhaps even conveys the notion of spiritual ascension. The contrast of Ellen Eagle’s two small pastel portraits reflects her exploration of space and perspective: one, with eyes directly engaging the viewer, has a full physical presence; the other appears as a fragment within an elongated sliver of space. In the work of both Giacometti and Eagle, the gesture and pose are familiar, and the framing of the figure within the composition is innovative. Wayman Adams’s portrait of Samuel T. Shaw places the figure in a more generous space, which includes furniture and objects that suggest the sitter’s connectedness to the outer world. Adams’s quick and intuitive painting technique is also the strength of Flladi Kulla’s work, Portrait of Nick. While their impressionistic and paint-loaded brushwork is similar, their use of color reflects the differing character of their subjects, and perhaps the period in which they were painted. Ed Hinkley’s watercolor studies of the figure are highly expressive in color, abstraction, and brush stroke, which conveys a sense of immediacy and urgency. Steven Assael’s painting, Fıgure 2, a nude female figure wrapped with four female hands, within a round frame, continues the exploration of the impact of framing on the viewer’s understanding of the figure. The perceived perfection of the circle as a shape suggests the suspension of time and space, as does Taplin’s Pluto in its literal suspension in space. Phyllis Galembo’s large scale and intensely colorful photographs present local people of Jacmel, Haiti, as they have prepared to participate in Carnival. Her subjects’ bodies are painted and decorated, transforming them into canvases evoking a world of wild imagination and spirituality, profound and trivial at once. Anthony van Dyck and Karen Ostrom connect across 400 years as they follow the same thread of repetitive exploration of one aspect of the body, the hands, arriving at their respective, original visions. Our habit of quickly reading the faces in portraits for expression and meaning often causes us to overlook their hands; yet, hands can be as revealing as faces. As one moves from these studies to Michele Fenniak’s painting, Afterwards, one can’t help but see the subject’s hands as focal points of expressiveness. Josephine Bloodgood’s works also concentrate on the hands or feet of her subjects. Dan Keplinger is a Baltimore-based artist who has had cerebral palsy from a very early age. His art emerges from the literal daily struggle with his body. “The more personal the work of art, the more universal it is.”
Exhibition Checklist 1. Carlo Bononi, (1569-1632), Reclining Figure, pencil on paper, 8 x 10 in. Seena and Arnold Davis Collection 2. Steven Assael, Swimmer, 1994, oil on canvas, 36 1/2 x 20 in.Courtesy of the Forum Gallery 3. PHYLLIS GALEMBO, Man in Blue Mask with Surprise Box – Jacmel, Haiti, 2004, ilfochrome print, 30 ¾ x 30 ¾. Courtesy of Sepia International Inc. 4. PHYLLIS GALEMBO, Three Painted Boys – Jacmel, Haiti, 2004, ilfochrome print, 30 ¾ x 30 ¾. Courtesy of Sepia International Inc. 5. Bartholomeo Passerotti, (1529-1592), Front: Seated Figure Verso: Standing Figure, Hand, Body, Arm, and Hand, brown ink on brown paper, 9 x 5 5/8 in. Seena and Arnold Davis Collection 6. Alberto Giacometti, Head of Diego, 1947, oil on canvas, 18 5/8 x 7 7/8 in. Neuberger Museum of Art Collection, Purchase College, State University of New York, Gift from the Dina and Alexander E. Racolin Collection 7. Ellen Eagle, Alfredo, 2001, pastel on pumice board, 8 x 4 in.Courtesy of the Forum Gallery 8. Ellen Eagle, Mercedes, 1998, pastel on pumice board, 11 x 8 3/4 in.Courtesy of the Forum Gallery 9. Samuel Lawrence, Prominent Lady With 3 Dogs, circa 1860s,oil on canvas, 24 x 18 in. Rena and Martin Sherer Collection 10. Pablo Picasso, Femme, 1922-1923, etching and roulette on Japan paper, Edition of 50, 4 ½ x 3 in. Friends of the Neuberger Museum of Art Collection, Purchase College, State University of New York, Gift of Janet Jaffin 11. James Carroll Beckwith, (1852-1917), Cutting the Reeds, oil on canvas, 32 x 21 in. Rena and Martin Sherer Collection 12. Corneille de Lyon, (1501-1574), Portrait of a Man, oil on panel, 6 ¾ x 5 ¼ in. Seena and Arnold Davis Collection 13. Giacomo Cerruti (1725-1750), Portrait of a Man with Beard, oil on paper on panel, 5 3/8 x 3 ¾ in. Seena and Arnold Davis Collection 14. Flladi Kulla, Portrait of Nick, 2005, oil on canvas, 20 x 24 in. 15. Moses Soyer, (1899-1974), Maria, oil on panel, 14 ½ x 11 in. Rena and Martin Sherer Collection 16. Steinunn ThÓrarinsdÓttir, Vision I, 2006,aluminum and mirror steel, 40 x 28 x 28 cm. 17. LIA Cook, Voices, Cotton, 2003, 74 x 55 in. 18. Karen Ostrom, Handgloves #10, 2004, chromogenic print, 3/3, 14 x 20 in. 19. Karen Ostrom, Untitled B, 2005, from My Life Began at Conception installation, 2004, chromogenic print, 1/5, 24 x 19 in. 20. ANTHONY Van Dyck, (1599-1641), Front: Study of Hands, Leg, and Head, Verso: Study of Heads, black pen and ink on paper, 6 x 6 in. Seena and Arnold Davis Collection 21. Josephine Bloodgood, Juggling Lemons I, 2004, oil on hardboard, 9 1/2 x 11 ¾ in. 22. Josephine Bloodgood, Letting Go, 2002, oil on board, 8 1/2 x 5 1/2 in. 23. Michele Fenniak, Afterwards, 2003, oil on canvas, 18 x 12 in.Courtesy of the Forum Gallery 24. Jacopo Tintoretto, (1518-1594), Crouching Figure, brown ink on prepared paper, 3 ½ x 6 in. Seena and Arnold Davis Collection 25. Robert Taplin, Pluto, 2004, reinforced gypsum, fiberglass, and lights, 50 x 20 x 20 in. 26. Steven Assael, Figure 2, 2003, oil on panel, 30 in. diameter.Courtesy of the Forum Gallery 27. Flladi Kulla, Sonia (study), 2005, pencil on paper, 22 x 18 in. 28. Flladi Kulla, Sonia, 2005, acrylic on canvas, 24 x 20 in. 29. Ellen Eagle, Amy with Clasped Hands, 1998, pastel on pumice board, 17 1/4 x 14 in.Courtesy of the Forum Gallery 30. Alberto Giacometti, Untitled (portrait of French poet Arthur Rimbaud), From book Rimbaud vu par les Peintres (Rimbaud as Seen by Painters), 1962, etching on paper, 11 5/8 x 9 5/8 in. Neuberger Museum of Art Collection, Purchase College, State University of New York, Gift from the Dina and Alexander E. Racolin Collection 31. LIA Cook, Traces: Wonder II, Rayon, 2002, 65 x 40 in. 32. Wayman Adams, Samuel T. Shaw, circa 1925, oil on canvas, 52 x 40 in. The National Arts Club of New York Collection 33. Ed Hinkley, Steamer, 2002, watercolor and gouache on paper, 15 x 11 in. 34. Ed Hinkley, Boy with Chairs, 1996, watercolor and graphite on paper, 11 x 15 in. 35. Ed Hinkley, Seated Woman, 1998 watercolor on gessoed paper, 10 x 9 in. 36. Ed Hinkley, Men with Poles, 1998, watercolor on paper, 15 x 11 in. 37. Ed Hinkley, Boy with Ox, 1997, watercolor on gessoed paper, 10 x 11 in. 38. LIA Cook, Traces: Fracture, Cotton, 2001, 105 x 56 in. 39. Daniel Keplinger, Self VII, 2000, oil on canvas, 24 x 20 in. Courtesy of Phyllis Kind Gallery 40. Daniel Keplinger, Self Portrait, 2002, etching, aquatint, 48/50, 14 x 18 in. Courtesy of Phyllis Kind Gallery 41. ELEANOR COEN, Untitled (Crawling Man), 1944, color lithograph, 9 impressions, 14 1/2 x 17 in. Courtesy of Gallery 1756-Chicago 42. MAX KAHN, Untitled (Two figures in a Cafe), 1949, woodcut, 1/9, 20 1/4 x 15 1/4 in. Courtesy of Gallery 1756-Chicago 43. Josephine Bloodgood, Encounter, 2004, oil on hardboard, 27 x 25 in. 44. Giuseppe Bison, (1762-1844), Satyr, black ink on paper, 6 ¾ x 4 ½ in. Seena and Arnold Davis Collection 45. Flemish School, Front: Head of an Old Woman Smoking Pipe Verso: Head of an Old Man, Brown Ink with Brown Wash on Paper, circa 1600, brown ink on paper, 7 ¾ x 5 ½ in. Seena and Arnold Davis Collection 46. PHYLLIS GALEMBO, Man with Chain – Jacmel, Haiti, 2004, cibachrome print, 30 ¾ x 30 ¾ in. Courtesy of Sepia International Inc. 47. Steinunn ThÓrarinsdÓttir, Position I, 2006, aluminum, 40 x 30 x 20 cm.