PETER LEVENTHAL – New Paintings

Peter Leventhal is a storyteller.  Having had the fortune to be born and raised in New York City with all of its stimulation and access to the greatest artwork of the Western World, Leventhal soaked in every opportunity he was given to learn from the old masters and to mingle with the new.  Primarily a self-taught artist, Leventhal credits the hours he spent in the New York Public Library, which houses drawings of some of the world’s greatest masters where he would copy and learn from their every mark, for the basis of his art’s education.

One of the early painters who peaked Leventhal’s interest was Raoul Dufy, a French Fauvist painter.  It has been nearly 40 years since Leventhal has been inspired by and has conversely interpreted some of Dufy’s philosophies into his own work.  Most recently, he finds that as his physical ability to hold a paintbrush in his dominant hand is no longer an option due to the Parkinson’s, he is now able to more fully embrace Dufy’s concept of allowing color to override the edge and follow into the adjoining figure and not be confined to a spatial context.  This has created more dynamic activity in his newest body of work, which is markedly more abstract than anything Leventhal has previously painted. This marked evolution also includes broader brush strokes and a generalization of the light/dark contrast of the composition as well as a particularization of the color.  The outcome is a series of vivid paintings that reference common Leventhal themes – love, lust, envy, exhibitionism, artistry – and characters – the sculptor, etcher, dice player and accordionist – while offering the viewer a new glimpse into the evolution of his work.

The public is invited for a cocktail reception with the artist on Friday, July 6 from 6-8 PM.  The work will be on exhibit until August 1, 2012.

GALLERY COLLECTIVE – SMALL WORKS

         

On exhibit for June are some of the favorite works from the past few months.  Come see gouaches by Polly Stark, cut paper by Margarita Fick, photography by Barbara Levine, paper mache sculptures by Edward Swift, ceramic sculptures by Adrian Guerrero, Maureen Gordon, Rodolfo Calva, and Rodrigo Lara, assemblage by Claude Mathey and Zoë Siegel, etching by Luis Carlos Rodriguez Ojeda and a fantastic wall relief by Angelina Perez Ibargüen.

Chuck Rigg – Portraits & Nudes

CHUCK RIGG – PORTRAITS AND NUDES

Rigg’s work combines his love for figurative painting with his appreciation of the male figure.   He is a skilled draughtsman as demonstrated by the numerous drawing awards he has won during his career and as is visible in the line of his paintings.  Also visible are the deliberate brushstrokes that are pervasive throughout his body of work.  The expressed influence of Caravaggio, Velasquez, Degas, Matisse, and Richard Diebenkorn come through in many subtle and not so subtle ways.  Many of the backgrounds of his paintings look as if Diebenkorn himself may have painted them during his Ocean Park phase.

Rigg expresses a comfort level with the male form as he feels an intimacy with and an attraction to it that creates a stimulating environment in the studio – sometimes erotic, sometimes fraternal.  Many of his handsome models are from San Miguel and are painted live while posing in the natural light in Rigg’s top floor painting studio.    As a gay male artist painting naked men, he feels he is making some kind of a political and cultural statement which he finds adds another dimension to the choice of subject matter, “growing up gay I always felt outside the mainstream, so painting something which won’t be accepted by everyone just feels normal.”

DIRK BAKKER – MANOS

written by: Kahren Jones Arbitman

Frequent travelers to and the citizens of Mexico will recognize them all: the wizened crone holding wilting calabaza flowers, the one-legged woman plunking her ukulele, the insistent man hawking rubber maps, the costumed ladies selling beribboned dolls.  These peddlers and panhandlers fill the city’s alcoves, stoops, and walkways, their places staked out by habit, or more likely, by inviolate street rules.  But who are these familiar yet frequently anonymous people who form such an integral part of the culture?   Dirk Bakker, professional photographer and director of photography at the Detroit Institute of Arts, wants to discover if life-sized, color photographs can reveal the personalities of Mexico’s street people.

To help overcome his subjects’ understandable reticence to his proposal, Bakker hires a driver and translator, buys hearty food, and creates a comfortable environment in his studio.  Using natural light, a backdrop of gritty white plaster, and simple floor tiles, he fashions a slightly elevated, non-threatening stage for the self-revealing portraits he hopes to coax from his subjects.  Quietly asking about their lives and families, Bakker waits for each to settle into a pose.  What results are startlingly intimate performances played out in front of the camera: some clown, some stand defiantly, others retreat into a shell.

Then, in what must have been mystifying to his sitters, Bakker lies on the floor and aims his camera directly at their hands.  The choice of focus is quite deliberate; hands are the consistent point of interaction between street people and those who occasionally drop “a little something” into their upturned palms.  By altering the expected focus on faces, Bakker allows his sitters’ hands to lead the storytelling.  And what stories they tell.  Invariably work-worn and often gnarled and arthritic, hands become welcoming, withdrawn, defensive, content.

Another important artistic consideration is Bakker’s lowered vantage point which literally and figuratively elevates his subjects.  In an insightful turnabout, viewers are now confronted by people who loom above them, no longer content to sit with bowed heads awaiting the generosity of strangers.  A similarly important consideration is Bakker’s decision to set aside a telephoto portrait lens that tends to flatten and in many ways flatter the sitter in favor of a “normal” lens that conforms to the angle of human vision.  He is looking for verisimilitude.

While the photographs’ technical virtuosity is undeniable, Bakker does not want digital wizardry or artistic license to overshadow an honest presentation of his sitters.  Fortunately, documentation and artistry can happily coexist in a single photograph. Simultaneous with documenting a life, these images also present a riot of mismatched color, pattern upon pattern, ruffles, fringes, buttons, makeshift belts, and other picturesque details that dazzle the viewer like a well-painted abstraction.  Equally arresting are the piercing expressions of many of the life-sized figures that could easily find prototypes in Diego Velazquez’s haunting, solitary misfits.  Despite the artist’s intent to capture only what his sitters give him, viewers cannot help but mentally embellish the individual stories.  For this writer, one telling detail is an elderly gentleman’s hemmed cuffs that touchingly speak of an attentive caregiver.  It’s nice to know he’s not alone.

 

ZOË SIEGEL – CIRCLES & LINES

The simplicity and innate lightness of Siegel’s sculptures is what defines her work.  An artist interested in the motion of gesture, her work tends to be about the pursuit to solidify motion and to give body and vitality to the ephemeral.  Some of her sculptures literally move while others simply imply movement.  White is the prevailing color of her translucent paper sculptures however a few accents of color appear in the shape of imperfect circles and lines which seem to imply the presence of some organic being that has worked its way into the dialogue.

Light plays a major role in Siegel’s work – its ability to permeate, the way it highlights or is reflected were considerations of the artist during her process.   Most of the light is innate in the white paper and the rest is applied at the time of exhibition to create the drama and to add the finishing touches that will change depending on the space in which they ultimately reside.  The conversation of duality is also a major theme to note in her work: physical space/peripheral space, heaviness/lightness, sexy/unsexy, feminine/masculine, together/apart, offering/receiving, one/two.

“I want to develop a dialogue between gravity and flight,” explains Siegel.  “The forms are born out of lines in space.  I use line as a sign language, finding its phrases, articulating its meaning, playing with its poetry.   Wire bones and membrane skin create the structure; they also reveal the process of how the piece was made, its history.”

Participation is highly encouraged as Siegel tempts the viewer to participate in the space she creates by offering them passage through portals and over bridges.  To be in her space is a mindful experience that is meant to resonate throughout the body of those who are physically entering her world.

The public is invited to experience the work and meet the artist, Zoë Siegel, on Saturday, February 4 from 6 to 9 PM during the Aurora 8th Anniversary Party. The show is open to the public until February 29, 2012. For a PDF catalog please e-mail the gallery at info@polyglotgallery.com.

TRANSPOSITIONS: NEW WORK BY ANGELINA PEREZ IBARGÜEN & MIGUEL ANGEL MORALES SAENZ

A new year, a new show and a new style of work from artists Angelina Pérez Ibargüen and Miguel Angel Morales Saenz is revealed in their show Transposiciones. These two local artists who have firmly set their names on the international stage have worked together off and on for the past ten years but for their new show neither artist has seen the work of the other. Simply the theme of “Transpositions” was set and they each set out to interpret the many meanings the word can mean from the mathematical: “a permutation which exchanges two elements and keeps all others fixed” to the logical: a rule of replacement in philosophical logic to the literal: an act, process, or instance of transposing or being transposed.

Angelina who has the longest career of the two has historically worked as a ceramic artist with a heavy inclination for installation and constructed settings. In the past couple of years however, she has branched out in part due to the support of some public grants from the Mexican government agency, FONCA, and has started to work with more reused and recycled materials on a much larger scale. In particular for her show at Bellas Artes in 2009 she converted a whole exhibition hall into a fantastical city of Styrofoam packing material and her ceramic figures were specially made to inhabit these spaces. In 2010 the artist took things one step further and made several pieces that interacted with motherboards from computers and later that year for the Polyglot Gallery Bicentennial show, “Mi Mexico”, the constructed ceramic figure completely disappeared and what remains now is simply the most mature work of her career where images are more implied. The expressed intention according to her is to create a dialog about the physical and metaphysical.
Miguel Angel Morales Saenz has historically worked hard and heavy. Common materials found in his work include rebar, cement, wax, pigments and steel. For this show, the materials haven’t changed but the work has become more architectural. This is due in part to the fact that Miguel Angel has been finishing a degree in Architecture over the past few years and has won government commissions to work on large sculptures such as the one that can be found in Mexico City close to the periferico.

It is an honor for Polyglot Gallery to inaugurate its 2012 exhibition calendar with the work of these two artists. The show opens Friday, January 6 from 5 to 7 PM at the gallery located in Fabrica La Aurora with a cocktail reception with the artists.

ETCHINGS COME ALIVE – LUIS CARLOS RODRIGUEZ IS “EL PINCHE GRABADOR”


(San Miguel de Allende; Decmber 2, 2011)

A young Luis Carlos Rodríguez chose a professional name and has spent his career proving himself wrong. “El pinche grabador”, this chosen name implies that the grabador (etcher) is pinche (lousy) but it doesn’t take more than even the briefest encounter with his work for even the most untrained eye to realize just what an ironic name the young artist has chosen for himself. There is nothing “pinche” about the “pinche grabador” and that is the beautiful irony you are invited to witness in his show “Sentido Regenerativo” (Regenerative Sense) that opens this Friday, December 2 at Polyglot Gallery at the Fabrica La Aurora.

A career artist for over a decade, the young Rodriguez formally graduated from the Universidad de Guanajuato in 2005 with a degree in etching. The etchings that Rodríguez produces have spanned the gamut of commercial to exquisite. One day he will be drawing a cartoonlike portrait of a famous Mexican luchador or of the iconographic Virgin of Guadalupe and the next day from his copper plate and stylus, a deeply personal, inspired abstraction will come forth from either the happiness or the pain that accompanies all life.

Rodríguez’ most recent work feels as if the artist is carving out bones of some created entity, digging deep in the dimensional potential that the plate, or in the case of most of the pieces in this show – woodblock, offers to extract the life that he unabashedly wishes to create. Taping into the training he received while studying with the Japanese etching master, Keisei Kobayashi, Rodriguez uses the inate life of the wood, its subtle textures to become an integral pictoral part of his creations.  Inspired by a recent encounter with the term agamogenesis (cellular asexual reproduction) Rodríguez’ became intrigued by this basic concept for existence – the desire for all living things to reproduce (even without a partner). The beautifully intricate prints of what appears to be of some multi-cellular organism he has dreamed up are reminiscent of biology book illustrations from the 1700s, however, Rodríguez creations are entirely his own. The beautifully twisted figures seem to be growing out of the paper as they might under a microscope. The level of intricacy and the depth he creates is truly astonishing and his choice to apply collage in each composition really gives the etchings a contemporary feel.

The public is invited to see the work and meet the artist, Luis Carlos Rodríguez, on Friday, December 2 from 5 to 7 PM. The show is open to the public until January 4, 2012 at which time the public is invited out for a small closing ceremony at noon and for a demonstration of the technique of wood etching.


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