The Female Eye

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Cover: Sharon Sprung, Serendipity, Oil on Panel, 42” x 42” (detail)

THE FEMALE EYE September 19 – October 22, 2019 Olga Antonova Alexandra Averbach Renée P. Foulks Susan Goldsmith Sunghee Jang Anita Mazzucca Elizabeth McGhee Alexandra Pacula Janet Rickus Sharon Sprung Patricia Traub

Representation in art is as old as time. Its origins can be traced back to 35,400 years ago in remote cave drawings of pig-deer and bison in Indonesia and France respectively. These early drawings were never gendered, however it is likely that they were made by women. Throughout Westernized art history, women have received less attention than their male counterparts. This can be said about Artemisia, the incredibly talented female realist, who like the men of her time, told visual stories plucked from a religious narrative and Greek mythology. She is the only celebrated female artist of the 17th century. The artists in The Female Eye have two things in common: they are each part of Gallery Henoch’s program and they are women who use paint as their medium of choice in a representational manner. Working mostly in oil, each artist approaches the canvas with a similar intent, to make a picture that can be identified by the viewer. In the 1973 published essay Art and Sexual Politics: Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?, Elaine de Kooning is quoted saying, “We’re artists who happen to be women or men among other things we happen to be —tall, short, blonde, dark, mesomorph, ectomorph, Black, Spanish, German, Irish, hot-tempered, easygoing— that are in no way relevant to our being artists.” This quote was later referenced by Judith Barry and Sandy Flitterman-Lewis

in their essay Textual Strategies: The Politics of Art Making, in relation to defining female artists and their personal declarations regarding feminism. While some artists in The Female Eye identify as feminists, others do not and find gender labeling regarding their art to be unimportant. Yet, in 2019 the majority of museums around the globe house more art made by men than by women. Times are changing, but in a post #metoo moment, not fast enough. This exhibition sheds light on the many different hands who are disregarding current trends in art in favor of the time-honored tradition of realism. Is there a grave responsibility when representing life or the proposal of life on the canvas? In the work of The Female Eye, artists chose to represent various subjects ranging from still-lifes, self-portraits and landscapes, often meticulously rendered. There is a particular weight carried by those who delve into the realm of realism, or what some refer to as magical realism, meaning painting that is so much more than real, it is otherworldly. When it comes to representation of any type in painting, the intention or goal of the artist might be as simple as tapping into the sublime, making something beautiful that can unexpectedly instigate a smile. Katy Diamond Hamer, 2019

Olga Antonova Painting for me is a soul nourishing process and a strong need to capture magic which My eyes catch contemplating things around me. Cups, plates, hats, faces etc. are just Forms which I can use to play with light, color, mood. I can create different situations and New forms with them. I like to think that it would touch people too.

Olga Antonova, Self Portrait With Lap Dog, Oil on Canvas, 14” x 11”

Alexandra Averbach I am continuously inspired and awed by the beauty of nature. In particular, I find flowers and fruit to be visually striking and enticing to view and paint. However, I am drawn to painting still life not only because I find the subject matter beautiful, but also because of how I feel when I paint. As I paint, the luminous petals of flowers or the round drupelets of a raspberry become a semi-hypnotizing pattern that is very calming and soothing. The minimalistic setup adds to these effects. I wish for my paintings to convey a sense of stillness, as if time is suspended within the painting, and hope the viewer experiences the same sense of tranquility in my work. To further draw the eye in, my paintings are almost always bathed in direct sunlight. The lights and darks, contrasts and shadows, encourage the viewer to linger a bit longer, thus making the work more enticing. From a process perspective, changes often need to be made in order to perfect the design. A petal shape is adjusted here, the color of another adjusted there. As I progress along, up close an abstract pattern begins to emerge. It is only when I stand back that each flower or berry looks complete and whole.

Alexandra Averbach, Transposed, Oil on Canvas, 30” x 44”

Renée P. Foulks “The symbol awakens intimations speech can only explain. The symbol plucks all the strings of the human spirit at once; speech is compelled to take up a single thought at a time. The symbol strikes its roots in the most secret depths of the soul; language skims over the surfaces of understanding like a soft breeze. The symbol aims inward; language outward.” - J. J. Bachofen Fascinated by epic stories, I examine rituals and belief systems and attempt to address ideas regarding birth, death and resurrection. It is my hope that interweaving elementary and ethnic ideas and symbolic language will offer a variety of interpretations and meditations. In the Garden: Left Panel was designed as the introduction to a 9 painting, 3 tier polyptych revolving around Adam and Eve in the garden. An exploration of man’s will vs. God’s will, this figure attempts to rise from the tangle of vines wrapping the tree.

Renee P. Foulks, In the Garden: Left Panel, Oil on Linen, 68” x 54”

Susan Goldsmith In my work, I am particularly drawn to the simple beauty of mutable natural environments, focusing on the cycles of nature, sunlight and shadow, time’s passage and human perception. Much of my subject matter comes from exploration, from living in the Northern California landscape, hiking the mountain landscapes surrounding Jackson Hole, Wyoming to roaming Central Park and the Brooklyn Botanical Garden in New York. While some of my methodologies derive from traditional painting, I also incorporate and invent new techniques that include gilding on film, creating textures to gild and paint on, as part of my process. Although initially inspired by antique Chinese screens, I began to use the leafed panels as backgrounds to reflect light – much like a light box. Art writer Patricia Albers has observed that in my work: “light as fickle and delicious as nature’s asserts the beauty of her subject, shifts, mirrors the room, and then fades.” I prefer to be known as an artist with a passion for painting; and, at the same time, like the idea of being part of an exhibit of female painters. Since I portray the beauty that I see in the world, the stereotype would be that there is a female behind this view.

Susan Goldsmith, Lavender Lullaby, (Triptych) Silver Leaf with Pigment Print, Metallic Watercolors, Acrylic Paint, and Resin on Panel, 30” x 30”

Sunghee Jang I am fascinated by vertical space projected as a reflected surface, rather than ordinary space that is drawn and constructed horizontally. Seen this way, the light reflected penetrates the floor surface to create a three-dimensional and infinite expanse. Light is an essential element of breathing life into solid objects and areas created by humans. It virtually creates a space that does not exist. My painting draws the gaze of the viewer down to the floor level from the eye level. The changing position of the eye induces an observer to further immerse himself or herself into the space of the painting. It provides an experience of imaginative empathy that enables one to see an everyday phenomenon from a new perspective. In addition, the geometrical composition and spatial representation of the plane invite the spectator into the picture naturally, extending the viewer’s space into the painting.

Sunghee Jang, Floor, Oil on Linen, 51 1/4” x 51 1/4”

Anita Mazzucca Often landscape is something we travel through to get from one point in our lives to another. But pass a location at just the right time of day and something draws you in. Trees that were grey at noontime in March turn golden in the evening in July. Nature has an energy that searches for light and space. It has a delicacy and beauty where weeds and leaves can look like lace. It is not hard to argue that we are careless with the environment. But painting the world as a statement of what it is becoming would be controversial, and not very productive. Instead, I paint landscapes that extol the beauty of the common and the glorious. I try to express that moment or glance that takes your breath away. Perhaps that is an image of nature that can persuade.

Anita Mazzucca, The Farm On Tennent Road, Oil on Canvas, 30” x 48”

Elizabeth McGhee Toys are often viewed naively and with innocence, taking us back to a time when we felt that way ourselves. I use nostalgia in my paintings as an emotional tunnel to reconnect the viewer with the creativity and possibility that existed in their own childhood play. A child uses toys to make sense of the world around them; toys serve an intellectual function for them as well as a cultural one. Children do more than merely “mimic� adults, they also creatively elaborate on otherwise menial everyday tasks. The ability of a child to make a game of almost any situation is a gift many of us have abandoned as we matured. In our professional society we dread being seen as immature or uninformed. We must act as adults and reject anything that might be seen as childish weakness. We must put away our toys in favor of tools. But I feel that toys are tools for both children and adults, even if they serve different purposes for each. For children, toys allow a safe introduction to the world around them. For adults, toys can serve in the place of abstract concepts, making them more real and relatable.

Elizabeth McGhee, Feeder Fish, Oil on Panel, 16” x 20”

Alexandra Pacula Artificial light is the key element in my work. I’m inspired by the way it behaves in a city, glowing out of windows, illuminating the streets and clouds. In my compositions the light has a life of its own, it flows over structured and rigid architecture; it escapes its confinement and is free to become what I want to make it. The surreal yet photo-based cityscapes I create are composed of thick impastos, intricate brushwork and delicate glazes. Each brushstroke is an interpretation of an illuminated window, headlight or street lamp. Each has its own character based on the movement of my hand and the shape of the brush. My paintings reflect the spectacle that is the Modern City. They ensnare the eye and transport the viewer to another dimension, reminiscent of the fleeting yet mesmerizing moments that take place only in the big city.

Alexandra Pacula, Fluttering Lumens, Oil on Canvas, 72” x 72”

Janet Rickus The first steps of a still life painting, the pre-painting choices and care that go into setting up a composition, are the most crucial ones for me and often the most difficult. There’s a lot of trial and error involved in getting all the parts to make a whole, cohesive composition. Ideas or single objects begin the selecting and ordering of elements followed by visits to different local market produce departments, sifting through my ever-growing collection of pottery and fabrics or maybe borrowing something from a friend. The items are then arranged with an eye on colors, tones, textures, abstract design, and negative space, with objects overlapping, touching, and leaning to create the feeling and mood of the painting—all done with a dose of affection.

Janet Rickus, Keep A Lid On It, Oil on Canvas, 16” x 26”

Sharon Sprung My paintings are a carefully observed negotiation, manipulated layer upon layer in order to create a work of art as equivalent to the complexity of real life as possible. They are an attempt to control the uncontrollable substance that is oil paint, and the equally untamable expression of the human condition. Pushing around puddles of this almost living substance, I am endlessly defining and redefining the craft of oil painting to fabricate an animated, breathing image grounded in the recognizable and familiar. Since I am purposefully involved with the contemporary world, I always seek to merge it with a surface that is at once abstractly patterned and textured, and that combines a meticulous respect for realism with the power of the personal image to speak a universal language. I want the subject and its environment to collide through the use of echo and repetition to form a united composition. We are constantly bombarded visually and I hope to infuse my work with a way of engaging the viewer that is both evocatively silent and powerfully commanding. The artists I have been most influenced by are quite diverse: Caravaggio, Egon Schiele and Kathe Kollwitz. Their paintings share both a profound respect and reverence for the individual with the power and the wisdom to explore those themes that haunt us – man’s strength, resilience, and sensuality together with the possession of an almost shocking clarity in this pursuit. I believe in the transformative powers of painting: that the luminosity of pigment and medium is as manifest as the surface of the soul.

Sharon Sprung, Nature/Nurture, Oil on Panel, 36” x 36”

Patricia Traub After my first trip to Africa in 1980, where I spent several hours drawing a cheetah resting on a dead acacia tree, I came to know an inherent beauty shared by all species. From that experience, I devoted my painting to expressing content that reflects contemporary issues focusing on animal welfare, conservation and interdependent relationships between animals and humans. Inspired by fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth century Italian and Dutch painters, I see elegance in their use of light and shade, as well as carefully planned composition. This has influenced the harmony and balance between my subject matter and the deep dark spaces. I am also moved by the use of a close picture plane, which gives the viewer the experience of being part of my painting in an intimate way. I combine both worlds, which I continue to explore.

Patricia Traub, Rescuer With Lemur, African Wild Dog, Two Rare Poultry, Oil on Panel, 12” x 12”

Patricia Traub, Rescuer With Lemur, African Wild Dog, Two Rare Poultry, Oil on Panel, 12” x 12”