Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Old Friendship, New Ideas


By Judit Trunkos

Walking into Gallery 80808 the day before the opening reception, I found four busy artists, who were putting the final touches on a new group exhibition at Gallery 80808. David Yaghjian, Mike Williams, Edward Wimberly and Stephen Chesley had exhibited together before.  Long-term friendship and art brings these artists together every year to showcase their new works.

Stephen Chesley’s new pieces shed light on his deep interest in other modern artists, especially abstract expressionists.  In order to perfect the depth and the dynamics of his brush strokes on canvas, Chesley fills sketchbooks with practice stroke studies to explore the usage and effect of negative space and dynamics.  At this group exhibition, he actually framed some of the best brush stroke compositions individually.  Chesley’s group of oil on paper, collectively titled “Kline/Zen,” introduces some of these unique brush strokes.

“Isolating the brush stroke, taking a piece out of the whole, shows that the piece is really equal to the whole,” Chesley says, giving a nod to the method Franz Kline used in the 60s.  â€œJust as Pollock’s work might appear chaotic at first, it is very well controlled by the artist.

Art-lovers in Columbia all know David Yaghjian’s “middle aged man” figure, who has been appearing in his work in the most unexpected and psychically unbalanced positions and situations. This year Yaghjian unveils new developments for his figure and begins to use trees as the main focus of these paintings.  According to Yaghjian, trees are still symbols for life and for the connection between heaven and earth, but they seem to appear more frequently as the main themes of his works. Yaghjian has also created wooden sculptures for the exhibit.  The wood and crayon pieces reflect the artist’s unlimited search for new ideas and the experimentation with new materials.

“Using crayons and chalk is like using kids’ tools. Allows me to discover new materials and have fun with them,” he says.

Mike Williams, best known for his abstract depictions of fish, features his new works inspired by nature and wetlands.  His mostly abstract paintings developed new lines this year, but he just had to add the fish figures to this background to finalize his work.  To further toy with the reciprocity of his works, Williams painted ”Across the Fish” in a way that his “Fish” sculpture fits into the painting perfectly.

“I am always trying to progress the work, trying new things,” he says. “There are no formulas. I just paint as I go.”

The character, Raggedy Ann, appears in most of Edward Wimberly’s exhibited works.  Even more surprisingly, the fictional character created by Johnny Gruelle has no connections to childhood or the story itself. Wimberly paints what he feels fits into the composition without having an ideological or compositional plan in mind.  Often Wimberly starts with one character or group of characters, which might not even be at the center of the canvas, and develops the rest of the composition afterwards.  In the painting titled “Evening on the Farm” Wimberly portrays a farm house in the background at night with a number of dancing and moving creatures in front of it.  Raggedy Ann dances with a ballet dancer in a pink tutu while a group of cheerful monkeys interact with the dancers.

“I paint things that do not make any sense,” Wimberly explains. “Afterwards, I look at the composition and try to understand it. But I do not know what I will end up painting in the beginning. I think it is boring to know what I will paint, before I paint it.”

This group exhibition is always a blast and will be featured at Studio 80808 until February 2.


Old Friendship, New IdeasBy Judit TrunkosWalking into Gallery 80808 the day before the opening reception, I found four busy artists, who were putting the final touches on a new group exhibition at Gallery 80808. David Yaghjian, Mike Williams, Edward Wimberly and Stephen Chesley had exhibited together before.  Long-term friendship and art brings these artists together every year to showcase their new works.Stephen Chesley’s new pieces shed light on his deep interest in other modern artists, especially abstract expressionists.  In order to perfect the depth and the dynamics of his brush strokes on canvas, Chesley fills sketchbooks with practice stroke studies to explore the usage and effect of negative space and dynamics.  At this group exhibition, he actually framed some of the best brush stroke compositions individually.  Chesley’s group of oil on paper, collectively titled “Kline/Zen,” introduces some of these unique brush strokes.“Isolating the brush stroke, taking a piece out of the whole, shows that the piece is really equal to the whole,” Chesley says, giving a nod to the method Franz Kline used in the 60s.  â€œJust as Pollock’s work might appear chaotic at first, it is very well controlled by the artist. Art-lovers in Columbia all know David Yaghjian’s “middle aged man” figure, who has been appearing in his work in the most unexpected and psychically unbalanced positions and situations. This year Yaghjian unveils new developments for his figure and begins to use trees as the main focus of these paintings.  According to Yaghjian, trees are still symbols for life and for the connection between heaven and earth, but they seem to appear more frequently as the main themes of his works. Yaghjian has also created wooden sculptures for the exhibit.  The wood and crayon pieces reflect the artist’s unlimited search for new ideas and the experimentation with new materials.“Using crayons and chalk is like using kids’ tools. Allows me to discover new materials and have fun with them,” he says.Mike Williams, best known for his abstract depictions of fish, features his new works inspired by nature and wetlands.  His mostly abstract paintings developed new lines this year, but he just had to add the fish figures to this background to finalize his work.  To further toy with the reciprocity of his works, Williams painted ”Across the Fish” in a way that his “Fish” sculpture fits into the painting perfectly.“I am always trying to progress the work, trying new things,” he says. “There are no formulas. I just paint as I go.” The character, Raggedy Ann, appears in most of Edward Wimberly’s exhibited works.  Even more surprisingly, the fictional character created by Johnny Gruelle has no connections to childhood or the story itself. Wimberly paints what he feels fits into the composition without having an ideological or compositional plan in mind.  Often Wimberly starts with one character or group of characters, which might not even be at the center of the canvas, and develops the rest of the composition afterwards.  In the painting titled “Evening on the Farm” Wimberly portrays a farm house in the background at night with a number of dancing and moving creatures in front of it.  Raggedy Ann dances with a ballet dancer in a pink tutu while a group of cheerful monkeys interact with the dancers. â€œI paint things that do not make any sense,” Wimberly explains. “Afterwards, I look at the composition and try to understand it. But I do not know what I will end up painting in the beginning. I think it is boring to know what I will paint, before I paint it.” This group exhibition is always a blast and will be featured at Studio 80808 until February 2.

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