Monday, April 18, 2016

KINDRED SPIRITS - Exploring Abstract Expressionism Today

The Greenville Center for Creative Arts is a new facility in Greenville SC and I was very excited when I learned they were hosting KINDRED SPIRITS - Exploring Abstract Expressionism Today an exhibition organized and curated by artist Katherine Duncan Aimone.

The show features the work of six artists selected by Aimone for the quality and style of their work and for how she found the paintings "different but complimentary".  Aimone states she feels each of the painters represented have been influenced by a period of art where artists often work from internal not external reference.

The teachers I personally had during my college years all came from an abstract expressionist background and they passed the love of this approach to art making to me.  I have been aware of several of the artists in this show via the web so it was great to see the work in person.

Blue Pulse - Galen Cheney - 2014
oil on two panels - 48 x 48 inches

Blue Pulse by Galen Cheney was featured on the cover of the very nice exhibition catalog.  The work is heavy with paint boldly applied and manipulated.  Often work of this style is created as the artists paints and paints over layers until the work is resolved and in this work I felt I was seeing a frozen moment in time where the work is coming together.  Maybe there could be more iterations ahead and many that have already happened but this is the moment Cheney allowed us to share.  The artist says, "I strive for my paintings to exist on a kind of tightrope, right on the edge of coming apart...and also with a sense of being composed."

unhinderedAccess - Jay Zerbe - 2016
acrylic and crayon on canvas - 30 x 30 x 75 inches

It was great fun to finally see the paintings of Jay Zerbe as I have followed his work for several years online.  Zebra's shapes and composition are very strong and recognizable.  My perception of these paintings is that the elements would all slide off the canvas except he interjects just enough counter pressure to stop the motion.  His use of color and value are very consistent and his style mature.  The Indiana artists says, "The contrast of chaos with order provides the structure for my work.  The appearance of order breaks down under scrutiny, which mirrors my understanding of reality."

Sad Ape - Matthew Dibble - 2015
enamel and paper on birch panel - 48 x 42 inches

Matthew Dibble is from Cleveland, OH.  I hope you will check out his webpage along with all the websites of these accomplished artists.  I love the photo of him sitting alone in his studio studying a painting.  Well sort of alone.  He is surrounded by his work.  Click on the link for Mono Chrome Paintings.  Wow!  I appreciate Dibble's technique and productivity.  There are bones underlying all the marks, scribbles, strokes and scratches and it's those bones that give the work power.  The work is a little tattered and worn and rich for being so.  He says, "I have a natural curiosity about my place on earth, and a thirst for sincerity in all forms.  These paintings are a glimpse into what happens when my very active inner life and the outer world collide".

Emergence and Dissipation - Steven Aimone - 2016
oil and graphite on paper - 12 x 11 inches

I suspect many of you are familiar with Steven Aimone and perhaps have one of his well respected books on your book shelves (Expressive Drawing: A Practical Guide to Freeing the Artist Within and Design!: A Practical Guide to Freeing the Artist Within) or perhaps have studied with him in one of his widely know painting workshops.  The piece I've chosen to picture is a beautiful example of his complex work.  It is rich and layered and has a monumental sense of scale but is in fact on 12 x 11 inches.  Aimone's statement about his art is one I think many people share.  He says, "My work is visual poetry, speaking indirectly and metaphorically about the human experience.  The paintings serve as gateways, affording access to complex, internal states of emotion, psyche, and spirit."

 Untitled - Margaret Glew - 2015
acrylic, oil, spray paint on canvas - 48 x 54 inches

While there were excellent women painting in the AbEx style when it was first developing, often the painters most referenced are the men.  As time has passed women are being more recognized for their contribution to this art approach and I feel that women excel in this very powerful and expressive manner of painting.  Margaret Glew welds her brush with abandon and relish.  The details of what has come before are partly obscured and the smears and smudges that fight their way to the surface become the "message" and the central focus of the work.  These works are painted with joy and vigor.  Glee is from Toronto, Ontario and she is quoted as saying, "I like a painting to have an element of unpredictability.  I want to surprise myself.  Deliberately try to disrupt the surface, unsettle myself, and provoke new ways of thinking about the work.  I am never satisfied."

The Floating World #12 - Katherine Aimone - 2016
acrylic on canvas - 48 x 60 inches (each panel 48 x 30 in.)

The last work is by the curator of this show, Katherine Aimone.  This work shows a different aspect or genera of AbEx in that it is very soft, organic, quiet and feminine.  Her color palette tends to be romantic and suggest water, twilight or a dream state.  The #12 painting which is pictured is from her series The Floating World and is a great example of the qualities I mentioned.  While there is texture and marks from the brush this work is carefully modeled and polished.  Aimone says, "My body of work is about experiencing beauty - that vulnerable state that is accessible each day, but often overlooked in our push to succeed and take care of practical concerns.  It is about feeling and sensing in the present moment; I consider it to be the source of my deepest and most authentic voice."

This exhibition will be on view at the Greenville Center for Creative Art through May 20, 2016.  Check their website for gallery times.


  1. Thanks for the thoughtful and perceptive comments,Terry!

    1. Thank you Matt. I really enjoyed seeing your work and appreciated a peek into your studio via your website

  2. The painting(diptych) included by Katherine Aimone is one of the truly beautiful ones among all the paintings I've seen of hers to date....very heartening to see & congratulations!

    1. I know she will appreciate your response. Thanks for commenting.