"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." This quote by Leonardo da Vinci is the tour de force behind the work of Tulsa-based artist, Kim Fonder. Fonder is one of many artists responsible for bringing large and inventive abstract paintings to the walls of Tulsa.
Fonder is a colorist whose vibrant palette and simplistic compositions see deep inspiration from her life-long relationship with music. The current exhibition of her work, on display at Aberson Exhibits on Brookside, 3524 S. Peoria, is a visual interpretation of the music she listens to as she creates her paintings.
Fonder's compositions are dominated by the relationship between organic and geometric fields of color. Color fields, a characteristic element of her work, are constructed through a rich, layering process involving colors that are sometimes analogous and other times complementary to the painting's dominant color. The nature of the forms present holds secondary importance in comparison to color, the key ingredient in all her work.
Earlier in her career as a self-taught artist, Fonder pursued the art of photography. Now that she has taken up painting, she has been able to apply certain photography principles such as contrast, density and brightness.
Along with principles of photography and her appreciation for music, Fonder finds inspiration in the philosophical ideologies painters, such as Anges Martin, Richard Serra and Robert Ryman. Of Ryman, she said: "He paints from his forms and the paintings evolve, and he makes no excuses for that. He is comfortable allowing the paintings to simply be painting for their own sake. No religious motivation, no deep conceptual idea, just paintings. To me, this is the highest devotion to his art."
This philosophy is evident in Fonder's own work as she creates non-representational paintings that do not attempt to be anything more than what they are -- paint on canvas. This humble attitude regarding art is evident not only in her paintings but in her career as well. Fonder works dually as a painter and as gallery director for Aberson Exhibits. Much of her career is spent putting the work of other artists before her own as she promotes and exhibits their work in the gallery.
Also deeply inspiring to Fonder is painter, Helen Frankenthaler. Fonder holds a deep admiration for the way in which Frankenthaler solidified her own place in art history by creating her own rules for painting and standing behind what she believed in. "My favorite quote of hers," said Fonder is this, 'There are no rules. That is how art is born, how breakthroughs happen. Go against the rules or ignore the rules. That is what invention is about.'"
Due to the large scale of her canvasses, Fonder chose to complete the majority of her recent work outside. When she is working in her studio, it is filled with glass jars of paint and glass palettes of mixed pigments. Her most essential ingredient for a productive studio space is natural light. "I need to feel as if I am outside even when I can't be outside," Fonder said.
While Fonder exhibits her work most frequently at Aberson Exhibits, she is not limited to the Tulsa gallery and has shown her work in Chicago, New York, Arizona, North Carolina and Oklahoma City.
Fonder's work is currently on display at Aberson Exhibits in Brookside. More information is available at abersonexhibits.com
Some California Love
Having long abandoned traditional paintbrushes that many artists rely on as an extension of their hand, California Bay-area artist, James C. Leonard has adopted an extended palette knife, much like the tool used by window washers, to create his large-scale paintings.
The size of his chosen tool for paint application easily lends itself to large and bold strokes of paint that create beautiful abstract compositions across the canvas. His palette is as inventive as his brushstrokes range in hues from intense reds and ochres, to soft yellows and blues.
"I paint from the inside out," Leonard said. "My inspiration comes from the internal feeling that there is something that can be expressed through me that is larger than myself."
For Leonard, the entire process of thinking about painting and creating work is an organic balance between his role as creator and the painting's nature to unfold according to its own will. Leonard tries to remove his conscious decision-making tendencies during the painting process and allows his subconscious to converse with the colors and forms that evolve.
An exhibition of Leonard's recent work has been on display at Joseph Gierek Fine Art Gallery, 1512 E. 15th St., and wraps up Saturday, July 3.
This intuitive and feeling-based method of painting results in visually rich and complicated works of art that speak to the narrative of the soul rather than that of our surroundings. Leonard's compositions are entirely non-representational and move the viewer's eye vertically or horizontally across the space. This basic movement is complicated by layers of dripped, speckled and fragmented colors that infuse not only a rich language of color, but also a visual history left to be discovered by the eye as it moves across the surface.
Leonard's inventive layering process results in heavy impasto, or textured, surfaces with a glossy, wet shine making them particularly beautiful when seen in person. His deep appreciation of abstract expressionists such as de Kooning, Motherwell and Rauschenberg is clear as his work resonates the emotional and daring achievements these artists accomplished.
There's only a few days -- until July 3 -- remaining to see the exhibition of Leonard's work on display at Gierek Art Gallery. More information about his work is available at gierek.com.
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