Sunday, May 3, 2009

Avner Levinson

Avner Levinson's quest to explore the gap between every day, mundane life and the human aspirations, leads him to create abstract forms with faint (and some would say obvious) hints of figurative shapes. As many sculptors do, Levinson is shaping and reshaping the outcome of his ideas as he goes along.

As much as he is leading the sculpting process, so does the material he is working with; its responsiveness adding much to the outcome as if it has its own will. This has also prompted Levinson to shift from plaster and clay to paper mache mix. "This (material) allows me the freedom to cut, break and change the piece with ease while also working quickly. Paper mache has qualities that interest me; it's very light, fluid, flexible and frankly, more environmentally sound than many other materials". Another quality that attracts Levinson is the fact the only tools he is using with this material are his bare hands. One can't get more personal than that.

The works are laid out on steel armatures that Levinson welds himself, some at the beginning of the work, some during - as if an afterthought. As he works on a seemingly completed section of his sculpture, he may suddenly stop, break off a hardened piece of paper mache, then make a change to the underlying armature, and rebuild new layers of paper mache on it. Build, pat, sculpt, dry, break, rebuild and so on.

Levinson's Thesis exhibition opens this coming Wednesday, May 6th (6-9pm) at the New York Studio School gallery (8 W. 8th st, NY, NY) and will run through May 21st. You can see two additional works at the silent auction of the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) on May 9th, and on his website at Avner Levinson lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Colette Wirz

"Kitchen creations", is how Colette describes her recent body of work. Starting with intense observation of objects, preferably live (like the 7 birds that live in her small Manhattan apartment, colorful fish she saw on her last trip to FL, items picked up in local flea markets or shells collected on a beach) are "taken in", and out come her own interpretations, dreams and reflections, landscapes juxtaposed with wild and still life alike.

Canvases line the walls, left and right, ready for her to add a touch here, a brush stroke there, whenever she feels the need. She can paint standing up, sitting down or even laying back on the couch - it's hard to predict a muse's visit.

You can see more of Colette's work here:

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Carol Salmanson

Moving from traditional painting to painting with light, Carol Salmanson employs the same concepts of layering and blending colors, textures and scale in her new work. Binding together LEDs and a variety of transparent, reflective and patterned surfaces, Salmanson creates what she refers to as "other-worldly environments", that stimulate the eye - especially when installed outdoors, where they successfully compete with the city's illuminated billboards.

Her work process includes, like any other artist, tedious experiments in different lighted mediums and light sources. Some of the process is strictly technical, soldering thousands of LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) to electronic circuit boards, testing how the color of each such tiny light source effects the entire piece.

Salmanson's show, Diaphany, runs through February 7th at the Mixed Greens gallery in Chelsea, NYC. The light installation is visible from the street level, 7 days a week from 8am to 10pm. You can see more of her work on her website, at

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Michael Dominick

Destructive techniques create beautiful art. Taking "action painting" to the limit, Michael Dominick paints with boiling, molten iron splashed on a relatively soft surface, typically drawing paper supported by wood or sheet-rock board.

The encounter between the two totally contrasting materials is nothing less than spectacular, which is why an iron pour show always draws a large and enthusiastic crowd (heavy metal band music is only appropriate, of course). The results, too, are always intriguing. The surface truly becomes the "scene of action", as the reaction to the iron splash can almost never be predicted. Abstract expressionism, if you will, with Jackson Pollock, willem de Koonig and others in mind, but with much less control and many more safeguards. Safely handling a heavy bucket of molten iron at 2800 degrees is no small feat.

The furnace is heated up and accepts charge after charge of scrap metal, typically pieces of old heaters left in demolished buildings. Like a scene taken from middle age foundries, the team assisting Michael don protective leather gear from head to toe, head and eye safety gear included - to ensure no drop of molten iron lands on exposed flesh.

When the metal reaches the right temperature, the furnace is "tapped", and a charge of molten iron is poured into a heavy metal bucket.

With swift arm & wrist movements, Michael splashes the iron across the surface, previously treated with a special compound of his creation, making it more resistant to the intense heat.

Due to the extreme heat of the substance, the molten iron doesn't settle for the most part, but chars its way across the surface, exposing the underlying layers and creating random hues, mainly red, orange and yellows. Since different areas of the surface react differently to the molten iron, a wide range of mini-reactions occur on the surface creating a strong, compelling visual. Biblical fire, meteor rain, firebirds - all are visuals that come to mind upon first glance at the piece.

Post process includes dusting off the piece, removing small iron particles that remain stuck to the surface, and spraying fixer. Minor additions are made with, what else, a torch.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Michelle Hinebrook

In her works, Michelle Hinebrook explores objects' figures much closer than a traditional painter or sculptor might do, at skin level. Intrigued by the way the skin surface reacts when pressed against or restrained by another surface or material, Michelle explores her own figure in both physical fashion - by wrapping her body in a hammock, as well as virtual one - by using an MRI scan, and then uses the grid representations as a theme to create her work. But this is only where her journey begins.

She starts by creating broad chalk strokes on painted wood, where the intersecting lines will guide the placement of nails - anchor points for the netted mask that comes next.

The mask, essentially any netted material, is then manipulated in between the nails, creating areas of tension and suspense.

She warps the fabric as she explores the resulting effect, and lets the material guide her as it twists and relaxes.

Then, it's the spray paint, delivered with either a commercial spray gun, for wider areas, or an airbrush for finer lines.

The spray flow vibrates the fabric threads, creating a fuzzy expression as the paint settles. Layer upon layer of paint is added, and although they don't accumulate, as oils would, her enamels mass up and create colorful presence that is emphasized by the almost mathematical organization of the cells.

Removing the netting, Michelle continues to add brush strokes that seem, at first glance, in total contradiction to the fine cellular expressions below; black, bold and wide, like coarse material rubbing against delicate skin. The intersection between the two spaces, internal and external, is what tends to be the first thing to catch the eye.

You can see more of Michelle's work on her site, at

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Serge Levy

Serge Levy's work, Headshots, is a direct evolution of his core interest, street photography. Serge, a photojournalism teacher at ICP in Manhattan, embarked on street photography, among other reasons, in order to bring out the emotions he discovered in himself - without risking too much exposure. His current work is more daring, with him being the model.

We perceive an image to be an accurate and complete representation of reality, but doing so is an oversimplification, according to Serge. A single image can depict a fleeing emotion or a few facets of our personality - but it can't truly and wholly represent us as the complex, imperfect beings that we are.

In his process, Serge is dancing around self-search, one step forward, one step backwards. His multi-stage process is geared to create distance from the person being portrayed - himself. The initial shot creates the first degree of that "removal". The Polaroid transfer that follows creates the 2nd and 3rd degrees (a Polaroid is made of both a negative and a positive). The Polaroid is Xerox, creating the 4th degree, and then transferred to paper - and the 5th and final degree of separation is achieved. Distancing himself from the end result, he feels a little less exposed.

But then, Serge jumps into the Xerox transfer, painting back those missing emotions, the facets of personality that are hidden in the original shot.

Working very close to the images, Serge describes the process as eerie at times, much too close for comfort. He covers his own likeness on the print he's working on, to create a new surface on which he is then building the emotions and feeling that lie beneath the surface.

Even taking his self-portraits turned out to be a complex process for the professional photographer in him; trained to identify and capture the "decisive moment", acting as both the model and the photographer can be often confusing.

You can check out Serge's work here:

Friday, September 12, 2008

Rebecca Schweiger

In a small Manhattan apartment, Rebecca Schweiger is painting sometimes on six different canvases at a time. One canvas is seldom enough to capture the emotions and feelings she is out to expose. Some emotions can't share the same canvas - so they find their expressions on multiple ones. Others may belong on a specific canvas because they were part of a specific time or event in her life; she may return to that older canvas later to add or enhance the expressions, or give it a different perspective. At any given time, there may be 5 or 6 very different canvases against her walls, like snapshots of different moods. Some overlap, some remain unique.

Rebecca's process reflects that of her soul searching. Starting with a blank canvas, she soaks it in washed down acrylic paint, creating a very delicate coating, almost subliminal, ready for the more agressive search - and substances to follow. She drips ink on the wet canvas, letting it smear and expand, almost without control. When the canvas is dry, she applies additional layers, in different mediums, from Sharpie marker to oil. The canvas becomes her mirror, and as quickly as she is able to peel off a mental layer through her inner search, she is adding that layer to her work.

You can see more of Rebecca's work on her website, at: