“Latin Implosion!”

Latin Implosion Postcard Front

Latin Implosion!

March 4 – May 5, 2017
Opening Reception: Tuesday, March 7, 6-8pm
Rodolfo Abularach, Mario Bencomo, Pérez Celis, Agustin Fernandez

The Anita Shapolsky Gallery is pleased to present “Latin Implosion!” a selection of works by four 20th century masters of Latin American art, including Rodolfo Abularach, Mario Bencomo, Pérez Celis, and Agustin Fernandez. Each of these four artists seeks to explore the sensory overload within each human interaction or experience. Histories of exile, repatriation and diaspora transform the works into vehicles for re-imagining the most intimate aspects of these contested psychic spaces. Each artist depicts their narrative through the gaze of personal mythology and visual language, with the physical and spiritual worlds dancing together within each frame. With “Latin Implosion!”, the gallery is thrilled to continue its legacy as a pioneering space for the exposure and appreciation of the lucid dreamers of Latin America.

Born in Guatemala in 1933 and of Palestinian descent, Rodolfo Abularach is perhaps best known for his close-up depictions of the human eye, yet his slow and mesmerizing abstractions evoke loneliness and introspection. Deviating from universally recognizable figurative works to visceral cellular formations, his pieces maintain a haunting voyeuristic quality, through which the viewer is the object of desire. He studied at the Escuela National de Artes Plásticas in Guatemala City in 1946, and received a grant from the Dirección de Bellas Artes of Guatemala to travel to New York City in 1958, where he began his internationally acclaimed investigations of the eye. Abularach’s works can be found in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sao Paulo, Brazil, and the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Copenhagen, Denmark, among many others. He is a recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Arts, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Cuban-born Mario Bencomo (b. 1953) blurs the lines between the intuitive and sensual aspects of perception, with references to the animism of the natural world. His playful, colorful realms depict abstractions of feathers, leaves, wings, and their figurative relationships to each other. An avid reader, Bencomo often references poetry in his visual works, as each plane tells an elegant story of symbiosis, pollination, and regeneration. While his paintings utilize a whole spectrum of saturated colors, his works on paper evoke primal energies in simple black and white with deliberately placed color. Mario Bencomo is in many collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The National Museum of Fine Arts of Havana, Cuba, the Art Museum of the Americas, Washington, D.C., The Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Florida, and the Muséo de Arte Contemporáneo, Panamá, Panama, among others. He currently resides in Miami, Florida.

A native of Argentina, Pérez Celis (1939-2008) was a colorist who blended raw emotion with piercing planes in a Neo-Expressionist style. His intensity in stroke and layering give his works a striking impact, through which he gained international acclaim. Often referencing his indigenous roots, his paintings, sculptures and murals weave thick tapestries of color with expert compositional fragmentations. Celis’ style evolved during his experiences in the many places he lived, where form and texture-focused works evolved into controlled lines and vibrant colors. Pérez Celis is part of numerous major private collections and museums including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Museum of Modern Latin American Art, Nicaragua and Washington, D.C., the Art Museum of Philadelphia, the Museum of Syracuse University, and the National Arts Fund, Buenos Aires, Argentina. In addition, he illustrated Jorge Luis Borges’ translation of the epic Walt Whitman poem, “Leaves of Grass / Ojas de Hierba”, and painted numerous murals on La Bombonera, the home stadium of one of Argentina’s most popular futbol teams, the Boca Juniors. Celis received the Alba Award at the 61st Salón Nacional de Artes Plásticas Argentino in 1972.

Agustin Fernandez (1928-2006) of Cuba settled in New York City in the 1970’s and is often considered a Surrealist for his depictions of fleshy visions and fantastical metallic inventions. His works are directly inspired by the machine, as mechanical joints, fixtures, buttons, and textures permeate his delicately rendered works. The erotic is never understated for Fernandez, as the cold metal hand of industrialization plays tenderly with the flesh in a muted, earthy palette. Fernandez sites exile as being influential in his development as an artist and exploration of more metaphysical realms. Fernandez is currently experiencing a resurgence in popularity, and was recently included in new art fair Paris Internationale in 2016. His work has also been included in numerous collections and group shows at institutions such as New York’s Museum of Modern Art and London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, as well as The Art Institute of Chicago, The Bronx Museum of Art in New York, the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, El Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Havana, and many more. In 2006, his family established the Agustin Fernandez Foundation, and published “The Metamorphosis of Experience”, a comprehensive survey of his work, in 2012.

A Non Objective Couple Postcard Front

A Non-Objective Couple

May 11th thru July, 2017

Opening Reception: Thursday, May 11, 6-8 PM

Also Opening May 11: “Sonia Gechtoff – Paper Paintings”  

May 11 – June 17 | Anders Wahlstedt Fine Art | 40 East 63rd Street, 3rd Floor New York, NY 10065

The Anita Shapolsky Gallery is pleased to present “A Non-Objective Couple”, an exhibition featuring husband and wife team Sonia Gechtoff and James Kelly. This exhibition features some of the remaining works of these artists’ oeuvres.

As prime examples of the San Francisco School of Abstract Expressionism’s raw, unique influence, Gechtoff and Kelly’s experimental approaches are exemplary of the collective coolness of the Bay Area. A focus on smooth, otherworldly strokes permeate their works, in contrast to the faster movements and more vibrant palette of New York, where much of the cultural dialogue came from and where they eventually settled. Inspired by poetry, particularly by their contemporaries of the Beat generation, Gechtoff, Kelly, and their peers viewed painting as the visual component of literature, yet unlike their New York counterparts, emphasized this duality through allusions to distant figuration, swirling motifs, spiritual encounters, and visual representations of verbal expression in their paintings.

Originally from Philadelphia, Gechtoff and Kelly married in 1953 in San Francisco and moved to a loft on the legendary Fillmore Street, where contemporaries Jay DeFeo, Wally Hedrick, and Michael McClure also lived. They were active participants in the Beat scene, and exhibited at King Ubu Gallery on 3119 Fillmore Street, one of the several locations where the heartbeat pulsed.

Both had a deep affection for the tactile qualities of paint, and a sensual connection to its application, sometimes utilizing their palette knives much like a pastry chef would apply icing to a cake. Sonia Gechtoff was a close friend of Ernest Briggs and Deborah Remington, two acclaimed second generation abstract expressionists. Gechtoff’s later works include loose horizon lines, which the artist says were inspired by her proximity to nature. Her strokes evolved into forms evoking flickering flames, combining her tactile palette-based strokes into more contained compositions.

Kelly’s first encounter with Van Gogh catalyzed his obsession with impasto techniques, which earned him a solid place in the cannon of the time. His handle on physicality, playfulness, and movement, tied to his continuing references to poetic culture, enmeshed him into the dynamic group of second generation abstract expressionists. Many artists in their network would, through sustained exposure to New York’s booming network, relocate eastward towards the end of the 1950’s. They also moved to New York City in 1958.

At 90 years of age, Gechtoff continues her painting and resides in New York City. Throughout their careers, the couple participated actively in not only contributing to the dialogue of 20th century visual art, but cementing the importance of the how influential the West coast Abstract Expressionist scene was to the movement as a whole.

Sonia Gechtoff (b. 1926) is considered one of the most influential female abstract expressionists. Her father was a painter, and introduced her to socialist realism at a young age. In 1950, she completed her BFA at what is now the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and moved to California the following year to study lithography with James Budd Dixon at what is now the San Francisco Art Institute. She was greatly inspired by Clyfford Still. Through her exploration of the movement crafted her signature style; using a loaded palette knife to create vibrant, gestural strokes at large scales. In 1957, she was given her first solo exhibition at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles.

In 1958, Gechtoff won a place at the Brussels World’s Fair. She was a recipient of the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant in 1989, 1994, and 1998, and received the Lee Krasner Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013. Gechtoff is one of the twelve women featured in the traveling Denver Art Museum exhibition, “Women of Abstract Expressionism”, curated by Gwen Chanzit. Gechtoff is part of numerous museum collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Museum, New York, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Denver Art Museum.

James Kelly (1913-2003) had a career which spanned nearly seven decades, including paintings and graphic works. While his work in his native Philadelphia had more of a geometric quality, inspired by Piet Mondrian, his move to California in 1950 changed his style to more gestural, using thick impasto oil paint and swirling motifs common of the San Francisco scene.

Kelly studied at the School of Industrial Arts, and the Pennsylvania Academy of Art, Philadelphia, as well as the Barnes Foundation and the San Francisco Art Institute. He has exhibited widely throughout the United States, and received grants from the Ford Foundation in 1963 and the National Endowment for the Arts in 1977. Kelly’s work is part of many permanent collections including the San Francisco Museum of Art, the Los Angeles Museum of Art, the Harvard University Art Museum, the Pasadena Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

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