Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Annual Winter Exhibit

Yaghjian, Williams, Wimberly and Chesley Together Again

By Judit Trunkos
Vista Studios/Galery 80808 proudly hosts The Annual Winter Exhibit of four old friends and artist. David Yaghjian, Mike Williams, Edward Wimberly and Stephen Chesley’s yearly show is a refreshing and energizing exhibit of their new works. Columbia’s art-lovers have been visiting this show for eleven years and get a chance to peak into the unlimited source of creativity and new ideas of the professional artists.
David Yaghjian’s fans already know the half naked middle age figure that appears on his canvases in the most unexpected situations, such as sitting in the middle of the forest, passing time in the backyard or balancing in a circus. This year, Yaghjian decided to make his signature figure three dimensional and created cardboard cut-outs as well as wood cut-outs of the character.   When asked about the development of the figure Yaghjian explained that things do not have to always progress forward it can also happen sideways. Stability is just as good, so instead of changing the person there’s a new three dimensional appearance of the figure.
“This year I created some three dimensional cardboard figures. I wanted to work with cardboard to do something different, so my figure moved from the canvas to the three dimensional world. By drawing the shapes on the cardboard or wood and then cut it with a knife or with saber saw feels like I get to draw it twice. It is a lot of fun working with three dimensional figures. I look at him differently; I try to figure out how to make him stand up, make him taller, etc.”  explained Yaghjian.
The wood cut-out titled “Weight Lifter” represents Yaghjian’s playful search for new materials and three dimensional works well.  The middle-aged man is in the process of lifting a barbell with heavy weights on it above his head. The dynamic position and the figure’s effort to push the weight higher result in him bending the barbell.  Yaghjian created a piece that seems to be moving in front of our eyes.
Mike Williams has also produced a lot of new pieces in the last year and is proud to present them at the group exhibition. Moving into a new work space allowed him to create larger pieces. The content of his canvases is still focusing on fish, wetlands, nature and yet new colors are emerging keeping his style fresh. Last’ year’s diagonal lines and grids seem to be disappearing as a more spontaneous design appears. Williams does not plan out his works merely follows his intuition to create.  In his large oil on canvas piece “This Way and That” Williams allows spontaneity to take over and reacts or compliments to the existing colors and shapes. Often the figure of the fish seems to be withering away and the colors of blue and green suggest the environment of the sea or wetland.
“ Last year I had more grids and geography, this year I am deconstructing them. My work is less organized more free form.” Explains Williams.
Edward Wimberly, who last year enchanted the art lovers with Raggedy Ann, this year decided to go to a different direction inspired by the Post-Impressionist master Cezanne. In the past Wimberly painted his imagination without copying anything, this years exhibition  features still lifes. Reading an article about Cezanne’s still lifes, Wimberly decided to try the French master’s designs.
“I decided to put a table cloth under the fruits, just like Cezanne does. Tried it and it was fun. My work is still realistic but you can discover a hint of Cezanne.” says Wimberly.
Stephen Chesley’s new works are partly inspired by disappearing nature of solitude and by the American realist painter Edward Hopper. In his paintings and charcoal pieces Chesley highlights important factors of Columbians and Americans’ life that seems to be slowly and invisibly disappearing. “Freight Train” is a group of charcoal drawings which depict the black train coming through the city as part of the identity of Columbia. It has been there for a long time and we Columbians do not even pay attention to it anymore, however, one day we will not have the strength and speed of freight trains with us anymore.
Edward Hopper’s influence on Chesley’s works is noteworthy as well.  As Chesley explained it, Hopperian style is part of the emotional content of his pieces, namely the strong American presence together with strong feelings of emptiness and the disappearing of solitude.
“Since I was born the population almost tripled, solitude is disappearing. In five hundred years we can show our grand-grand-grand children what solitude was, what it was like to walk on the clean beach without other humans around us. “Says Chesley.
The group exhibition at Studio 80808 will be open until January 25, 2011.

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