POSTED ON SEPTEMBER 15, 2010:
Art from Afar
Two artists bring their work to two Tulsa galleries
In Touch with Nature. Sarah Bienvenu’s work is about creating a relationship between accidental compositions and contrasts she finds in nature through the artistic language of shape, color and texture. Shown: A Nice Trail.
Artists from the east and west will converge in Tulsa on Thursday, Sept. 16 with openings at Joseph Gierek Fine Art on Cherry Street and Aberson Exhibits in Brookside.
At Joseph Gierek, Sante Fe, N.M., artist Sarah Bienvenu will be exhibiting 11 works in watercolor and gouache that express her love for nature and her unique way of interpreting what is around her. Meanwhile, across midtown at Aberson Exhibits, New York artist Jean-Paul Philippe will exhibit a recent collection of paintings and sculptures that reference his Oklahoma roots. Both artists will be present at their respective openings, which will take place from 6-8pm.
Bienvenu is a contemporary watercolorist who creates abstract landscapes that are heavily influenced by her surroundings. Her work is a testament to the beauty in simplification of shape and richness of un-manipulated color. In her daily observations of nature, Bienvenu is fascinated with the shapes she finds and the ways they relate to one another. In turn, her paintings are simplified yet sophisticated interpretations of her environment. Not one to invent colors or shapes in her head, all of the imagery and colors found in her work are from direct observations she makes while painting.
A life-long passion for traveling has played a key role in Bienvenu's choice of watercolor as her primary painting medium. She has found watercolor to be the perfect tool for painting on site and appreciates its ability to fluctuate between thin and translucent to heavy and opaque. When she took up watercolor as her primary medium it was not considered a serious medium at the time. "I had to trust myself," she said.
Bienvenu first passed through Sante Fe on a road trip from California to New York. She saw it as a place she would like to paint and consequently has been living there for more than 30 years. While she travels and paints frequently around the country in places such as Maine, Colorado and Utah, she loves the Southwest and its never-ending variety of subject matter.
At first glance, Bienvenu's watercolors are often regarded as expressions of her feelings towards the landscape. On the contrary, her work is about creating a relationship between accidental compositions and contrasts she finds in nature through the artistic language of shape, color and texture. This ability has allowed her work to become a reinvention of nature, exposing it in a way that was always present, yet difficult to see.
Equally important to Bienvenu as describing nature is capturing the essence of the place where she made her painting. If, by looking back on a painting, she is able to remember the season, time of day or way the light hit the earth, she considers her work successful.
Joseph Gierek Fine Art has represented Bienvenu for the past decade in group shows. However, her current body of work, Painting Nature, will be her first solo show with the gallery and will prompt her first visit to Tulsa. Winterowd Fine Art in Santa Fe and Edmond Craig in Ft. Worth also represent her. Painting Nature will be on display through Oct. 16.
More information is available at gierek.com.
Born in Henryetta, artist Jean-Paul Philippe has come a long way since graduating from the University of Oklahoma with degrees in painting and ad design.
He lived and worked in London for 20 years before moving to New York City in 2003. In 2006, Philippe bought an isolated log cabin in Connecticut, and now spends half his time working there and the other half in his studio in SoHo.
His show at Aberson Exhibits will mark his first exhibit in his home state. When creating the work for this exhibition, he allowed himself to contemplate memories, places and characteristics he associated with Oklahoma, such as nature, hills and weather. For instance, three of the paintings in the show relate to water and are derived from the countless hours he spent by the pond in his youth.
As an abstract artist, Philippe's interpretation of his subject matter is executed through interlocking shapes and colors that speak to the nature of what he is portraying without providing literal rendering. "I was one of those kids who always looked at dishwater to see other things in the suds," he said.
Inspired by his childhood fascination with discovering hidden shapes, Philippe said, "I bury a lot into the pieces. The ideal viewer would be able to look at the work and see something new every time."
In addition to the 12 paintings featured in the exhibition, Philippe will also feature two large-scale steel sculptures he has assembled since arriving in Tulsa. He came to Tulsa more than a week before the opening of his show in order to create the two steel sculptures in an industrial fabrication facility in Tulsa. He had six working days to complete the two sculptures in time for the opening.
The first sculpture was designed specifically to fill in the gallery's front window, and was inspired by the ethereal nature of clouds. To achieve the light, airy quality of a cloud, Philippe had to remove much of the heavy steel from its original state. He then transformed to cut out steel pieces from the cloud sculpture to create a second, complementary sculpture for the exhibition.
Philippe describes himself as a painter of the natural world infused with moderism.
"My work is traditional in a funny way," he said.
He attributes his modernist inclinations to the modernist architecture he frequently saw growing up near Tulsa. While his abstract style and crisp manner of painting has not strayed from his typical approach to painting, this show provided Philippe a unique opportunity to seek inspiration from his childhood memories in Oklahoma and integrate them into his work. This show will be open to the public through Oct. 2.
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