Through The Bramble (June 6-26, 2024)

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Through The Bramble June 6 – 26, 2024

Reception: Thursday, June 6, 2024, 6-8 PM

530 West 25th Street, New York, NY

Agora Gallery is pleased to announce Through the Bramble, an exhibition of paintings and sculptures considering how space, size, and scale influence the perception of our surroundings.

Imagine for a moment: what if we were small, minuscule even, no larger than a bug? How would the world suddenly appear to us? In this whimsical yet thought-provoking exploration, the natural world takes on a surreal and fantastical quality. Innocent flower petals transform into menacing fangs, while regal bee queens become strange, grotesque creatures with bulging eyes. Frail blades of grass tower like insurmountable pylons, and tranquil ponds swell into vast, sprawling oceans. Spirited figures come out of the woodwork, pavement shadows hover like ghosts, hazy lands enshroud us in their mystical embrace. Transcending the perimeters of the physical plane, we may suddenly melt into a formless state of bliss, bouncing back and forth against the walls of reality and finally piercing through.

From monumental to miniature, the works featured in this exhibition defy conventional spatial dimensions, offering viewers a fresh and invigorating perspective on the world around us, and inviting us to explore the boundless possibilities of imagination.

Through The Bramble

Lawrence Armstrong

Aigerim Bektayeva

Irene Van Celestine

Holly Grosvenor

Jess Jacobs

Mariana Kalacheva

Francis Antony Kodankandath

Sempu Nakajima

Maria Regina Ruiz

Esra Ozakan Trolonge

Lawrence Robert Armstrong

The paintings and sculptures of artist Lawrence R. Armstrong represent an ongoing exploration of the concept of layers: both how they interact and intersect with one another, and also the meanings contained within. For Armstrong, layers are to be found anywhere: in space and time, in intellect, in emotion, and in the synthesis and interpretation of form. Whether two- or three-dimensional in scope, the artwork that results is almost multisensory in nature, eliciting from the viewer a multifaceted experience and opening our eyes to the wondrous complexity that ultimately composes our world. A piece of artwork is often precipitated by flashes of light and inspiration derived from anything from written text to music to a particular event. Regardless of its origins, through his art Armstrong explores the natural tension inherent in opposing forces, whether it’s the natural world versus built environments, or other paradigms such as chaos/order, free form/ precision, random/planned action, and solid/void.

Lawrence R. Armstrong currently lives and works in Orange County, California, where he is also an accomplished architect, designer, and CEO of a dynamic international architecture firm, Ware Malcomb. Armstrong has exhibited widely across the world, such as at SOFA Art Fair in Chicago, Galleria360 in Florence, Galleria Azur in Madrid, and the Artblend Summer Exhibit in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. His extensive philanthropic affiliations include Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, United to End Homelessness, Chapman University Real Estate Program at the Argyros, the National Association of Industrial & Office Properties, Kent State University’s Design Innovation.

Eclipse 2, 2024 Acrylic and Wood on Canvas 20” x 58” x 7” Fledge, 2024 Acrylic and Metal on Canvas 29” x 67” x 4”

Aigerim Bektayeva

Aigerim Bektayeva’s paintings are a heartfelt expression of her love for the Kazakh people and her homeland. A technical virtuoso, the artist combines traditional oil painting practices and unconventional materials, such as decorative stones and metals applied on canvas. Bektayeva’s artistic journey is deeply influenced by her grandfather, Akhmet Bektayev, who, amidst the trials of war, saved 97 lives in a Nazi concentration camp. She inherits his patience, cordiality, and love, reflecting them through her art with kindness, perseverance, and vitality.

Her latest series is titled Bee-Loved: A Journey to Self-Acceptance and Self-Love. Using bees and their queen as a metaphor, each painting portrays different stages in the journey towards selflove, capturing both challenges and triumphs. Vibrant colors and intricate details symbolize the inherent beauty and worth within each individual, drawing parallels between the lives of bees and human experiences. The artworks encourage viewers to embrace their unique qualities, fostering a profound love and appreciation for themselves and the world, mirroring the symbiotic relationship between bees, their queen, and the hive.

Bektayeva is a Doctor of Fine Arts and a member of the Academy of Arts of the Republic of Kazakhstan. She trained at Atelier Alupi in Paris, France; Accademia d’Arte Firenze, in Florence, Italy; and ART Factory in Russia. Bektayeva has won several prestigious awards including the 2020 Order of Merit for Science, Culture and Arts Award from the International Academy of Sciences, Culture and Art, in Paris, France. She is also the founder and CEO of the ZERE School of Fine Arts in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

We are the Nature, 2023 Oil on canvas 71” x 59” Honey Peak, 2024 Oil on canvas 75” x 59” Irene Van Celestine

Irene van Celestine, “Irene who is heavenly connected,” is a Russian-born painter based in Melbourne, Florida. A radiologist, van Celestine began to paint only a few years ago, after the sudden passing of her mother and aunt in close succession. Fusing mythology, history and popular culture, her work is a testament to courage and resilience in the face of adversity. In van Celestine’s fantasy worlds, women hold supreme power over the phenomenal and noumenal spheres. Often portrayed unclothed in the moonlit wilderness, they confidently stroll through forests with dragon wings, fly over dark barren landscapes, or sprawl across oversized flower fields, bending oceans, fires, and wild beasts to their command.

There is also a profound esoteric element in her narratives. The women appear spirited, their eyes wide open looking straight into your soul. Engaged in sacred animistic rituals, they conjure universal forces with symbols and incantations, chaperoned by groups of feral animals. The creatures–namely wolves, bears, black swans, and dragons– at times represent our demons and at times strength. Van Celestine slashes through the fear with swords and flames but also caresses, embraces, and heals with angel feathers. From the depths of grief, she rises victorious like a phoenix from the ashes. About Come and Get Me Dragon King, showing a winged female figure looking in the mirror, she remarks, “The woman looks in the mirror with despair and still sees the reflection of her beautiful purple wings, which were cut off in real life. She is crying in pain and frustration, but her wings will grow again when the time is right.

Mother of All Dragons, 2021 Oil on canvas 24” x 18” Come And Get Me Dragon King, 2022 Oil on canvas 30” x 24” She Who Holds the Diamond Orlov, 2021 Oil on canvas 24” x 18” The First Cry, 2021 Oil on canvas 30” x 30”

Holly Grosvenor

Inspired by the hues and movement of light, artist Holly Grosvenor, studies and captures the luminosity of her natural environments. Grosvenor creates her work both on-site and in the studio, as she selects and magnifies fragments of natural settings to translate in oil and acrylics on her canvases. Her work is a response to her personal experiences in the natural realm, as she creates multiple “plein air” observation sketches in watercolor on site, as well as detailed photographs of the space, and returns to her studio to recreate these environments in oils and more recently, acrylics. Acrylics as a medium allowed Grosvenor to delve more deeply into the behavior of reflection and translucency on water and reflective surfaces, as it granted her more time to develop each painting and emphasize the details of the natural phenomena.

One of the most captivating elements in Grosvenor’s paintings is the sense of space and dimensionality she is able to create within the frame of her canvas. The special quality in her compositions invites her audiences to enter the painting and engage with her narrative and with the environment. Grosvenor’s special awareness could be influenced by her training in as an architect. “I attempt to capture the casual observation; to hold a passing moment of uncelebrated beauty in reflected light and changing color. I find profound pleasure in sketching on site surrounded by the rich colors of the natural environment.

Grosvenor has a B.A. in Environmental Design from Brown University and an M.A. in Architecture from Harvard University Graduate School of Design. She won Best in Show in the 2021 Water Media Spring Juried Show from the Oregon Society of Artists and first place in the Portland Rose Festival Art Show. Her exhibitions include Aqua Art Miami (Miami, FL), the Providence Art Club (Providence, RI), the Oregon Society of Artists (Portland, OR), the Portland Rose Festival (Portland, OR), and the Spring Bull Gallery (Newport, RI). She has been a practicing architect for forty years. Now retired from the profession, she lives and paints in western Massachusetts.

Verge, 2022 Acrylic on canvas 30” x 40” Reverie, 2024 Acrylic on canvas 30” x 40” Riverside, 2013 Oil on canvas 24” x 20” Sidewalk, 2018 Acrylic on canvas 30” x 20” Jess Jacobs

New Zealand-Samoan artist Jess Jacobs paints luxuriant landscapes that exalt the beauty of the Pacific region. Immersing herself in local history and her familial roots, her bond with Samoa ignites, sparked by stories of a grandmother’s childhood in Apia alongside Robert Louis Stevenson. A dedicated researcher, her passion unfurls historical colonial narratives, the impact of globalization, and the urgent reverberations of climate change in the Pacific.

Beyond artistic expression lies a deeper resonance—a poignant call to safeguard the Pacific’s intrinsic beauty and cultural legacy. Jacobs’ art embodies impermanence, celebrating resilience, regeneration, and the eternal cycle between old and new, urging observers to embrace change while preserving the essence of what defines us. “Just as the butterfly emerges from the chrysalis, sometimes we need to shed our former shell and take on a new paradigm shift,” she says. “This regeneration, growth and transformation, dark and light, new life, and death of the old is portrayed in my work and I embrace growth, beauty, life, hope, and its preservation from a feminine perspective.”

Fanau Ola Mai Le Oti (Birth, Life and Death), 2023 Acrylic on canvas 59” x 79” Mariana Kalacheva

Mariana Kalacheva is a Bulgarian painter based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Kalacheva’s paintings evoke bygone eras, fusing the decorative elegance of Art Nouveau with the fabled naivete of children’s illustrations. Women in sumptuous Renaissance dresses stroll through gardens filled with all sorts of earthly delights–fragrant lilies, majestic trees, multi-colored birds, swans, flamingos–or rest languidly in opulent interiors, with their lovers, children, or pets. The narratives are inspired by her travels and work in the gallery and yachting industries on the French Riviera, where she resided for many years, as well as her Bulgarian heritage. References to treasures spanning centuries—artifacts from the Thracians to Roman emperors–appear in her paintings as symbols of an idyllic past. Constantly experimenting, Kalacheva uses acrylic, paper collage, fabric, gels, beads, and paper mache on canvas or board. Her paintings evoke the timeless aura of an enchanted world, one where beauty, peace, and harmony prevail.

The Forgotten Summer, 2024

Mixed media on canvas 30” x 30”

In Pursuit of the Fog, 2024

Mixed media on canvas 30” x

30” Sunrise in Provence, 2024 Mixed media on canvas 30” x 30” The Lost City, 2024 Mixed media on canvas 48” x 24” The Portal, 2024 Mixed media on canvas 48” x 24”

Francis Antony Kodankandath

Francis Antony Kodankandath is a self-taught painter based in Thrissur, Kerala, India. He began to paint inspired by his late father, who exposed him to local masterpieces from a very early age. Kodankandah embraces traditional materials and techniques from Asia–such as khadi and origami–combined with Western mediums, as a powerful commentary on the importance of maintaining harmonious communication and peace across cultures. Originally employed by Mahatma Gandhi during the freedom struggles of India, khadi is a hand-spun natural fiber, which the artist utilizes as a painting surface, after treating it with indigenous techniques. The cloth is stretched between two rolls and painted with acrylic paint. In another recent series, Kodankandath creates origami boats with handmade paper and applies them unfolded onto the canvas. The triangle shape is ubiquitous in his narratives, as a symbol of the dynamic equilibrium between God, the human race, and nature, and the divine forces that govern the universe. His work attests to the transformative power of creation while evoking a sense of unity and equilibrium in a complex world.

Kodankandath has held 55 solo exhibitions in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. Among the most notable are the NY United Nations headquarters (USA); the Japanese International Cultural Cooperation Agency (Tokyo, Japan); the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (Italy); the University de-Joseph Fourier (Paris); the Newman Centre University of New Orleans (USA). He also exhibited at the London, Florence, and Austria biennials. He was granted the Xth Florence Biennale Medal, the Indian National Akademi Award, and the State Akademi Award.

Application for the Patent of a Paper Boat 1

Mixed media and handmade paper on Kancheepuram Silk 22.5” x 19.5”

Application for the Patent of a Paper Boat 2, 2024

Mixed media and handmade paper on stretched canvas 19.5” x 16”

Application for the Patent of a Paper Boat 3, 2024

Mixed media and handmade paper on Kancheepuram Silk 19.5” x 22”

Application for the Patent of a Paper Boat 4, 2024

Mixed media and handmade paper on handmade paper 19.5” x 22”

Sempu Nakajima

Sempu Nakajima is a contemporary Japanese calligraphy artist who is extremely dedicated and deliberate in his practice and art form. As a child, Nakajima encountered an ancient hanging scroll in a chashitsu (tea room) from the late 5th century. The beauty of this piece sparked in him a life-long passion and fascination for traditional Japanese art and culture. He began studying Japanese calligraphy at age 6, and has later deepened his studies and skills in the ancient Japanese art under the master calligrapher Takayoshi Kaneko. Nakajima studied under Takayoshi sensei, a famous Japanese calligrapher who had a strong influence on his style. He has since passed away but was well-known in the calligraphy world in Japan.

Over his career as an artist and calligrapher, Nakajima has developed his skills to create a wholly original style of calligraphy for a contemporary audience. He attempts to break Japanese characters free from their traditional form, while simultaneously respecting their beauty and tradition. He acquires his tools, from brushes to paper to frames, from a local craftsman in Kyoto, to ensure that he uses the finest materials in his work. He finds great purpose in creating truly genuine Japanese works, while also making a contribution to sustaining handcrafted artisanship across Japan.

Of his work, he beautifully wrote, “Each stroke I make is a moment in time that cannot be taken back, there is a great importance that I place on preparing my thoughts and practicing my movements to create perfection in the imperfection. It can be an arduous endeavor, but I find a kind of beauty in this process.”

Peace I, 2024 Pine smoke ink on Koshu Japanese paper 27” x 27” Peace II, 2024 Pine smoke ink on Koshu Japanese paper 27” x 27” Peace III, 2024 Pine smoke ink on Koshu Japanese paper 27” x 27” Peace IV, 2024 Pine smoke ink on Koshu Japanese paper 27” x 27” Peace V, 2024 Pine smoke ink on Koshu Japanese paper 27” x 27” Peace VI, 2024 Pine smoke ink on Koshu Japanese paper 27” x 27” Flower of Peace I, 2024 Sumi gold ink on washi paper 14” x 17” Flower of Peace II, 2024 Sumi gold ink on washi paper 14” x 17” Flower of Peace III, 2024 Sumi gold ink on washi paper 14” x 17” Flower of Peace IV, 2024 Sumi gold ink on washi paper 14” x 17”

Sumi gold ink on washi paper 14” x 17”

Flower of Peace V, 2024 Flower of Peace VI, 2024 Sumi gold ink on washi paper 14” x 17” Wave of Peace (from Hyaku Nin Isshu - Book of 100 Japanese Poems of Nature), 2024 Japanese Kimono 65” x 61” Maria Regina Ruiz

In order to create her artworks, Maria Regina Ruiz focuses on a minuscule segment of a photograph, which is usually an inch or a quarter of an inch long. Ruiz pores over this segment in order to magnify it and, in doing so, reveal the allure of detail and the pockets of life that we overlook. Ruiz chooses her subject matter based on what catches her eye and allows her process to guide her forward. Ruiz’s mastery of the technical aspects of painting captures our imagination and allows us to ruminate upon every line and area of color she creates. In fact, her color choices stem from the home she grew up in, which her mother always filled with flowers. Flowers and their naturally vibrant hues recur throughout Ruiz’s work, bringing her back again to her mother.

Ruiz was born in Peru and now lives in Houston, Texas. In addition to her career as a painter, Ruiz is a teacher, and she holds a PhD in History, Literature, and Philosophy. Her art has received recognition at various art shows and galleries and has recently been exhibited at the Diocesan Museum of Salerno (Italy), PAKS Gallery (Munich), and Palazzo Bembo (Venice, Italy). Ruiz is also well-traveled, and her travels provide her insight into the importance of color in various world cultures. She aims for her artwork to foster appreciation for the little things in life, to allow the viewer to see the details of their own life in a different light.

Aguacate, 2023 Oil on canvas 36” x 24” Girasol al Sol, 2015 Oil on canvas 36” x 24” Lirio Blanco, 2014 Oil on canvas 36” x 24”

Esra Ozakan Trolonge

Esra Trolonge is a French-Turkish painter based in Bordeaux, France. Her works, adorned with symbolic elements drawn from archaic and primitive art forms, vividly portray the vibrant forces of the natural world. Her motifs are inspired by the narratives and symbolism of ancient civilizations, such as Byzantine mosaics, Egyptian frescoes, primitive African art, and Central Asian shamanism, and reflect her life-long fascination with plants and flowers, which she occasionally incorporates into her pieces. Through meticulous layering techniques and a diverse array of materials, including ink, acrylic, and found objects, Trolonge crafts enchanting tableaux that resonate with viewers, activating their primal connection with nature. Her latest series depicts enchanted gardens–sacred sanctuaries that offer solace in the midst of a turmoiled world. The palette follows the whim of the seasons–blue and pearl-hued in the winter, ochre and yellow-tinted in the summer months. A triumphant celebration of the natural realm, Esra’s art embodies a profound reverence for the planet and a call to action for conscious evolution.

Mixed media on canvas

Bisou La Vie, 2024 47.5” x 47.5”

Butterfly Season, 2021

Mixed media on canvas 43.5” x 43.5”

Acrylic, pastel, aquarelles, ink, oil pastel & glitters on canvas

43.5” x 43.5”

Le Rêve De Sovage, 2024 Love Can Take You Home, 2021 Mixed media on canvas 39.5” x 39.5”

Your Lucky Star, 2022

Mixed media, collage object on canvas 57” x 57”

Gallery hopping in New York

Agora Gallery is located within the heart of the Chelsea Arts District with available hours from Tuesday – Saturday 11 am - 6 pm.

Opening receptions are held once a month, giving you the opportunity to meet the artists and view a variety of original artwork. Visit our website and subscribe to our mailing list to stay up to date on all events and happenings –

Chelsea, New York City

© 2024 - Agora Gallery - All Rights Reserved The copyrights of artwork contained in this booklet are retained by the artists. Reproduction of any published material (images or text) is prohibited without the written permission of Agora Gallery. 530 West 25th Street, New York, NY 212-226-4151 Fax: 212-966-4380 WWW.AGORA-GALLERY.COM WWW.ARTMINE.COM

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