Produced by Seraphin Gallery, 2017
By: Lindsay Covington, Seraphin Gallery Intern
Michael Morrill’s pieces are restrained in their color palette, but each work’s radiant golds and rich blues evoke a sense of profound contentment within the viewer. His canvases are about quality rather than quantity; simplicity rather than overcrowding. As stated by J.J. Winckelmann, considered by many as the founder of art history, the most poignant art is marked by “noble simplicity and quiet grandeur” -- a concept which Morrill masters. He looks back through time to classical antiquity from Egyptian statuary to Renaissance panel painting, but mostly to 20th and 21st century abstractionists for inspiration. Each of his canvases is saturated with this lineage. He embodies the essence of art through time in his use of gold and blue, which is has been seen in world art for millennia. Morrill titled the show Deja Vu Blue to recall this illustrious color combination, appearing time and time again not only in painting, but also in sculpture, prints, and other media. Something about the pairing arouses our human subconscious, stirring up unanswered questions about the mysteries of civilizations, cosmology, faith, and life.
Conceptually, each work is reminiscent of a different geographic region or period of time based on the artist’s titles, his musings and meditations. Trappist I, for example, is a nod to the dwarf-star thought to provide enough light for the possibility of life on surrounding planets. This focus on deep space physics gives rise to a realm where precise definitions and scientific proof give way to the imaginative, to hypothesis, and invention. Tigris and Euphrates, on the other hand, was inspired by the area of modern-day Turkey and Syria connected by the two rivers, where the ancient Mesopotamian society blossomed—commonly referred to as the “Cradle of Civilization”. One piece launches us into the universe, the other takes us to the birthplace of artistic production as we know it. Both, however, are tied together by their deep blues and radiant gold leaf, reminding us of our place in the ancestry of humanity, and of what lies ahead when we are gone.
When analyzed side by side, the two monumental pieces evoke different reactions. Trappist I connects us to what could potentially exist outside of our known world. How do ancient artistic representations of holy figures -- figures whose omnipotence extends beyond our world -- coincide with current scientific exploration of spheres out of our reach? Morrill presents this complexity through the layers of blue shades in Trappist I, each one stretching further into the unknown. Tigris and Euphrates grounds us not only in the history of art and society, but makes us question how the Middle Eastern region has developed over time. The uses of blue and gold in art has evolved since the days of early Mesopotamia, but so has the society centered around the fertile riverbed, now a region plagued by conflict. The two panels in Tigris and Euphrates show the continuous flow of the rivers, while marking a distinct rupture along the equator of the painting. Each of Morrill’s works tells its own story and links to history at a distinct point. Each piece, however, makes sure to connect us to one another, to our predecessors, and to whatever may lie ahead of us.
The endurance of Mesopotamian artistic traditions for centuries, including the use of lapis lazuli and gold leaf, speaks volumes about the innate human reaction to this fusion of colors. Morrill looks not only to the origins of art, but also to the way blues and golds have been manipulated throughout history. Walking around in the Renaissance and Medieval sections of Philadelphia’s Museum of Art, one can see a pattern emerging. Especially in Christian triptychs and diptychs, the rare blue pigment set against gilded grounds and halos reveals the divinity of the Virgin Mary or other saintly figures. In the triptych of Virgin and Child with Saints (Master of Johnson Tabernacle, 1461), for example, the gold of the background casts an ethereal glow over the people depicted, while emitting a brilliance from within the painting itself. The blue of the Virgin’s robes, in contrast, signify her importance as a religious figure.
Artists have continued weaving this thread of blue and gold in their works during the centuries following the Renaissance, all the way into our contemporary era. Yves Klein, for example, invented ‘International Klein Blue’ -- a pigment of unparalleled depth -- in the 20th century. During his Blue Epoch, he made blue casts of his friends, including Arman, which he then set against gilded panels. The Arman, displayed in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, recalls the strength and virility of ancient Greek godly statues, such as the classical Laocoon Group or the Apollo Belvedere. The combination of solid blue and gold in the installation places a modern lens on this rich art historical heritage. He mixes the colors of traditional Christian art with the forms of Greek mythology, tying together the most striking aspects of two powerful empires.
To look at one of Michael Morrill’s works is to take a journey through thousands of years of art history. The exhibition Deja Vu Blue is a reexamination and conformation of his longtime commitment to the expressive power, mystery and dignity of abstraction. Working within the constraints of the blue and gold leaf color motif Morrill utilizes the full range of his experience with ancient and contemporary art making materials, techniques, and technologies, ranging from gold leaf, synthetic acrylic and oil paints, and digital imaging.
The painting Déjà vu Blue, for which the show was named, uses the classic triptych format. The reductive palette of blue and gold leaf further explores contrasts between absorption and reflection of light in a tripartite composition that fuses the geometry of Carl Andre with the color-field techniques of Mark Rothko. Here, Morrill’s use of blue and gold leaf explores the behavior and enchantment of light, while making a subtle reference to the depth and richness of art history by evoking panel painting. Morrill once again places his art in dialogue with the masters. Hypnotic and thought-provoking, Morrill’s pieces radiate modernity while paying homage to the past.
By: Carl Straw
Seraphin Gallery is proud to introduce sculptor Robert Roesch to our portfolio. An upstate New York native, Roesch graduated from the Pratt Institute and the State University of New York. He has received over 12 grants; including a Fulbright Specialist Award to lecture in Japan between 2006- 07. Roesch has been exhibiting since 1999 from everywhere from the Pennsylvania and New Jersey to Egypt and Syria. He is known for his sculptures, which combine structured architecture with graphic and abstract formations. The elements he incorporates in his art, such as wind, water, atmosphere, and time, form a concept he refers to as Transduction. In many of his works he discusses it as a, “change of atmosphere from one moment to another, whether it’s heaven to the underworld, love to hate, sky to sea.” This snapshot in time, almost unperceivable, is what he attempts to capture within his works, this liminal space where binaries unite.
Throughout Roesch’s life he felt a connection to sailing; the simplicity of multiple parts maneuvering to navigate onward, inspired much of his direction. Roesch’s began his artistic journey with pencil and paper, creating visual representations of contrasting forms. After working at a tugboat repair port, he became involved with the medium of metal. There he found the magic of steel -- how quickly the material could be manipulated and its impact as a solid physical structure. Works, such as Rainwall completed between 1985-2009, showcase instances of dimensionality through the layering of material. In combining complex industrial architecture with a 23-karat gold leaf formation atop, the artist created a work symbolizing the union of opposing forces. In many of Roesch’s sculptures there is no clear concept or vision, there is simply material. The sculpture is the final product of Roesch’s response to the material he manipulates. His process relies simply on instance: on how the material reacts to him in specific moments. He discovers his works and develops his vision through these momentary connections with the material.
Roesch’s forms these unique amalgamations as a result of selected elements fusing at precise moments. In East/ West, composed of waxed steel, flat black polychrome steel, and stainless steel, Roesch works with principles such as weight, movement, and rhythm to provide viewers with a different understanding of how shape and line can function in a three dimensional form. Here, the exact action of Transduction becomes apparent, where opposites converge and thus alter their appearance. Forms such as a pyramid are placed at the base, contrasting with the steel armature and allowing for the pyramid to become a focal point. In many of Roesch’s works, the base functions as the heart of the true sculpture, and whatever he places above the base is intended to accentuate it. It is through this alteration of our understanding of form and composition that Roesch’s pieces become so striking.
Within the past 10 years, Roesch has begun to work in the public realm, and has expanded his vision to produce works on a massive scale. Amongst his 20 public art projects, including the Gateway to the city of Wichita Kansas and the entrance to Texas A & M University in Corpus Christi, energy flow is a crucial principal in the formation and creation of his sculptures. By playing with artistic elements, such as shape, line, and scale, Roesch continues to develop of this energy and dynamism. In his smaller sculptures, Roesch focuses on how opposing materials, sizes, and structures will correlate, and how their direct energy paths will collide to create the ultimate goal of Transduction. This same mentality is visible in the larger displays Roesch invents, wherein he consistently strives to attain the level at which opposing forces meet and the balance of energy is stable.
Robert Roesch has been known in the Philadelphia art community for many years, not only as an artist and a member of the Philadelphia Art and Architecture Commission, but also as the Chair of Sculpture at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Seraphin Gallery is proud to introduce his work in our sculpture garden. 3 of his works, Rainwall, East/West, and Saiph (Safe) feature prominently in our location. Roesch’s work has been collected all over the world including at the Bibliotheca Alexandria in Alexandria, Egypt, the Glasmuseum Ebeltoft in Ebeltoft, Denmark, and the Kyoto Institute of Technology Museum in Kyoto, Japan. Expect Seraphin to be showcasing Roesch’s work during the Autumn 2017 season.
We hope that you are enjoying the last few weeks of summer, and looking forward to the upcoming Labor Day weekend holiday.
The gallery will be closed from Wednesday, August 23rd to Sunday, August 27th in preparing for the upcoming fall season, and will be reopening on Wednesday, August 30th with regular business hours.
Wednesday to Sunday
10 AM to 5 PM
and by appointment
Ryan Buffington’s Mimesis will be on view through the first couple weeks of September. Click here to view Ryan’s artists page. Please feel free to contact our Associate Director, Alyssa at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions regarding Ryan Buffington’s work or our portfolio.
Seraphin Gallery has recently acquired two paintings from the early 1960s by famed West Coast abstract expressionist, John Hultberg. Educated at the California School of Fine Arts, known today as the San Francisco Art Institute, Hultberg’s teachers included Mark Rothko and Clyfford Still. In 1948 he created portfolio of lithographs aside his fellow classmates entitled Drawings, which has been acknowledged as a pivotal moment in Abstract Expressionist printmaking. Heavily influenced by this experience, his tendencies to make minimal and dark Abstract Expressionist paintings only grew to shape his artistic reputation we are familiar with today. His works are in the permanent collections of galleries such as the Guggenheim Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, Portland Museum of Art, Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Both paintings, Untitled and Green Night Destruction, are very indicative of his work, and finely demonstrate the dark and mysterious landscapes that Hultberg is most noted for. With surrealist invented landscapes and a combination of abstract and representational languages, these pieces set a very specific tone for the viewer. Although there is vagueness in terms of space, the handling of the paint, such as a thin wash versus impasto, suggests a specific setting with depth and dimension. The high level of contrast throughout his works, further exemplify the landscape in which Hultberg is experimenting with-- dark hues and bright white lines blur the lines between reality and fantasy. Compositionally, the works are almost a vignette, drawing the eye to a more defined part of the canvas and then receding into what could only be determined representationally as a vacuum or deep space. A level of science fiction resides within Hultberg’s work evoking stormy wasteland, apocalyptic cityscapes, forgotten ruins or an empty galaxy.
These pieces are currently on view at Seraphin Gallery. John Hultberg now joins our 20th century portfolio of post war artists that currently includes Claes Oldenburg, George Segal, Arman, Willem de Kooning, and Harry Bertoia, among others. Please click here to view his artist page on our website.
By: Carl Straw, Seraphin Gallery Intern
In these media-centric times, branding and the restructuring of corporate identity paired with the sheer rise of technology has an undeniable effect on artistic expression. The works of Danielle Cartier are unique for their use of the outside world as both inspiration and material. Exploring the commercialized reality as a reduce, recycle, reuse sequence that is a bombardment of imagery, while creating multiple layers of vibrant infusions of color, Cartier draws her viewers into an experience all too familiar. Utilizing a mixed media process with an emphasis on collage, Cartier consciously pays homage to the works of famed Pop and Neo Dadaist Robert Rauschenberg, while establishing her own 21st century urban perspective. His works, like Cartier’s, examine elements of the contemporary world to unlock an underlying effect from the viewer—embedded within the surface. Rauschenberg challenged the limits of representation, the extension of the canvas, and the dimensionality of the pictorial plane. Cartier manipulates these principals through her own interpretation of the image--both in physical material and created form.
Cartier began her studies at Sonoma State University in 2014 with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts, concentrating in both painting and printmaking. This past May, she received her Masters of Fine Art from the Graduate School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania. Her work began with a plethora of found material—an accumulation of printed papers, magazine clippings, and newspaper scraps. Cartier states, “The images that circulate throughout society are constantly being constructed, reconstructed and recycled. And here I am, decoding the ever more complex messages, signs and traces of the everyday.” In works, such as Tear Out My Eyes completed in 2017, she is intentionally taking scraps from the world and reinventing their purpose. Her placement of these images is what draws a comparison to the works of Rauschenberg. Her placement of objects such as a folding chair, a repeated ring pop form, the facade of a school, are all associative connections we have to present day society. These images are immediately recognizable, no matter the extent of Cartier’s artistic integration. But the question then becomes, Does the sum of these parts create a contextual whole, or an imitation of the post-modern repetition and inescapable barrage of imagery?
This same query could be said for such works as One More and We’ll be Almost Halfway There, completed in 1979 by Rauschenberg. Here, images of text are warped simply by printing them backwards. The identity of this form is recognizable, possibly from a newspaper or magazine, but has the essence of the printed words remained the same? In many of Rauschenberg’s works he discovers the core responsibility of images and the multiple facets of composition. As stated in The Flatbed Picture Plane, by famed art historian and critic Leo Steinberg, “Rauschenberg’s picture plane had to become a surface to which anything reachable-thinkable would adhere. It had to be whatever a billboard or dashboard is and everything a projection screen is, with further affinities for anything that is flat and worked over—palimpsest”. There was no other place for Danielle Cartier’s piles of ripped leftovers, except to become embodied by the canvas.
The real goal of these artists is not to literally trick the viewer—as in trompe l’oeil still lifes, surrealist landscapes, or Ron Mueck’s brand of hyperrealism—but rather to display and represent the world for what it is. A world where images and symbols are consistently being reshuffled into a deck; to then reappear as if we had forgotten about them. These significant markers are what artists like Rauschenberg and Cartier seek out. They discover the symbols we unconsciously hold dear, to iconicize them against the memorialized space of fine art and art history. Both artists will be on display until August 13th.
June 30th – August 13th, 2017
Seraphin Gallery is proud to present the 4th Annual Emerging Talent exhibition featuring artists who have recently completed their Masters of Fine Arts degrees from esteemed universities in the local Philadelphia area, including the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of the Arts. The exhibition will open on June 30th and run through August 13th. The public opening will be held on June 30th from 6pm to 8pm.
Seraphin Gallery has carefully selected six young artists in curating this group exhibition. These individuals show inventive ideas in formal technique and imaginative ways to of developing their concept. The works in this collection range from painting and digital photography to mixed-media installation. Large scale intimate prints (Autumn Thomas) and subdued variations of power (Yaochi Jin) contrast with the high impact paintings of multimedia influences (Danielle Cartier) and hyper-realized environments (Zachary Chomyszak). This fourth iteration of Emerging Talent introduces these recent graduates in the earliest stage of their promising careers.
Seraphin Gallery has invited Danielle Cartier (University of Pennsylvania, MFA), Zachary Chomyszak (Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, MFA), Yaochi Jin (University of Pennsylvania, MFA), Holly Mathews (Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, MFA), James Allistar Sprang (continuing studies at University of Pennsylvania, MFA) and Autumn Thomas (University of the Arts, MFA).
For more info about the works included in our fourth Emerging Talent Exhibit click here.
Seraphin Gallery has recently acquired a piece by renowned artist Natalie Alper. Though she has exhibited with the gallery for many years this work, dated 1988, is before Alper’s relationship with Seraphin Gallery began. This piece marks a moment in Alper’s mid-career when she focused on the societal demand for energy, and consequently how abstract art could both reflect and summon this intensity. Her first pieces were inspired by the dynamics of language and line as tools to reference conversation and understanding. Later in her career, Alper began to look at her surroundings through the lens of man’s manipulation of natural phenomena. Just as with the metamorphosis and unpredictability of nature, her works take on a life of their own. Having full control over the amount of paint placed down, Alper must succumb to the natural manifestations of the material. She is driven by the journey towards the work’s creation, rather than adhering to a concrete path. This method can be seen in many of her works completed in the 1980s where Alper focused on showcasing these challenging ideas.
During the 1980s, Alper drew inspiration from complementary ideas like order and unpredictability. Through her unique painting methods, such as the layering of lines, she is able to create a dimensional spatial quality in her works. In Untitled (1988) ribbons of bright, fluid color allude to the concept of language – an intangible mode of communication placed within a tangible grid. With a smoky earth palette, she transforms hints of nature into a colossal atmospheric being. Her uses of rich indigo and gold spark moments of wonder underneath layers of calculated imagery and manipulated line, which attempt to harness the energy of her abstracted form. During her creative process, Alper tackles the complexity of space and the way in which to give it meaning.
Alper started her artistic journey painting at NYU under the instruction of Phillip Guston. Guston was part of the abstract expressionist movement along with Pollock and DeKooning in the revolutionary New York School of painting and printmaking. Under such exceptional tutelage, Alper received her MA in history at Boston University, after which she traveled to Europe to explore the regions of Czechoslovakia/Soviet Union, Poland, and Sweden. Influenced by her experiences abroad, Alper began to shift her artistic focus to reflect the changing landscapes she saw during her travels. In her paintings, she references location and spatial awareness, as stated in her artist bio. More specifically, she explores the way a form can operate within a confined area, as well as how she can balance the control and fluidity of these forms. Blue Soundings, a 2007 painting using metallic pigment and acrylic paint showcases Alper’s awareness of space and the transformative qualities a repeated movement can portray. In this work, you can visualize Alper sweeping across the canvas with large intentional gestures, almost trying to detain this being she has created. With sharp thin lines she attempts to hold the energy of this form back with strenuous effort. The result is a wet pulsating surface left to the viewer to see as either finished or in the process of.
Her most recent series, ‘Energy Fields’, call attention to the changing of material. By using metallic pigments and iridescent grounds she creates work that directly responds to in situ. Alper focuses on the interpretation of life within a space. She refers to her process as “a record of engagement with a surface”. Her sheet functions as the territory with which she interacts, and the resulting work is an outcome of this partnership. Alper imbibes her works with the scientific method “here and now” – the study of the present world we encounter – as well as ideas of Chaos Theory, wherein initial conditions and their transformations lead to unpredictable outcomes.
When viewing a piece from ‘Energy Fields’ the viewer may see an overall transformation occur. Through iridescent and natural pigment Alper creates an optical illusion. Playing with light placement the viewer can see multiple different outcomes within one surface. In her work “December #1” completed in 2007, we can view an optical illusion through the multiple layers of pigment. From sveral angles Alper’s rhythmic technique showcases multiple different outcomes of surface dimension. With each strike Alper unlocks another world and asks for deeper investigation from the viewer.
Seraphin Gallery has a large collection of Alper’s work available ranging from her earliest paintings, to her more recent series ‘Energy Fields’. For more information on Natalie Alper and her continued work, view her page here. For more information about her works available contact Seraphin Gallery.
By: Lindsay Covington, Seraphin Gallery Intern
Youdhisthir Maharjan is a master of contradictions. Through his work he tackles complex dichotomies, such as spirituality and nothingness, science and art, mass production and attention to detail, journey and final destination. His art reflects the human search for meaning: a subject which has taxed mankind for centuries, and which remains as futile as Sisyphus pushing his boulder up the hill. Maharjan’s installations and and prints are made from repurposed texts, which he strips of their legible content. In interviews, Maharjan has cited writings by Beckett (Waiting for Godot) and Camus (The Myth of Sisyphus) as his artistic inspiration, as well as the Buddhist Thangka (painting on cotton textile). His rich personal history is also ingrained his work -- Maharjan was educated at a military academy in his native Nepal, originally looking to become a doctor before turning to the arts. He uses the rigid, mathematical repetition learned from childhood as a source of meditation when creating his pieces.
Though influenced by the philosophy of absurdity, Maharjan’s work is far from existentialist. He immerses his pieces in riddles begging to be solved, carefully choosing each letter he highlights. Maharjan gives each page and book a new purpose, writing a language which he lets the viewer decipher. Much like the texts themselves, he repurposes the 20th century philosophies, allowing the audience to decide whether or not they want to extract meaning from his art. For Maharjan, the art lies in the process of production rather than the end result. Taking from his background studying science and mathematics, he meticulously cuts and pastes different parts of each text, scrambling the letters or erasing lines, leaving an ‘illegible’ page. This process, he states, takes days on end. During this time, Maharjan connects to his spiritual roots, his literary pursuits, and his innermost contemplations. What remains in his work is the interesting blend of incomprehensibility at first glance and profundity upon reflection.
Every book he reworks is one which Maharjan happened upon in a used bookstore, as if by a whimsical twist of fate. The titles are in some way wittily linked to the pattern on the page. In this way, the artist further plunges into the relationship between word as something with inherent meaning and word as a simple shape. In Archives of the Universe, soon to be consigned by Seraphin Gallery, Maharjan cuts out the main text, using some of the individual letters to form a miniature galaxy in the center of the page. Vowels are joined in an abstract constellation, prompting thought about the universe and our place in it. This brings us full-circle to the notion of the futility of this train of thought. Should we try to decode what Maharjan has presented us, or should we just let the beauty of the page engulf us?
Maharjan describes how he uses art to work through his musings about our role in the universe, tying together his pieces marked by stellar forms and open spaces.
"My fascination is more towards astronomy than astrology, or maybe equally both. I have always been awed by the mystery and the feeling of infinity that the space radiates in me. I like the idea of getting lost staring at the night skies, how it reminds us of our place in the Universe, how little it makes us feel, and at the same time, how lucky to be able to enjoy and experience its magical beauty."
Please see this link for more information about the artist:
By: Lindsay Covington, Seraphin Gallery Intern
With a minimalist grey, windowed storefront, Kraft Studio occupies an unassuming spot in DC’s rapidly developing neighborhood of Anacostia. Look up, however, and you will see the artist’s signature glowing sign, identifying the headquarters of one of the nation’s leading neon artists. The space extends much farther than expected, with Kraft’s pieces hung on the exposed red brick walls all the way to his workspace in the back. The studio is airy rather than cluttered, with light flooding in from the front windows; though given the nature of his works, Kraft hardly needs any additional light! The neon of his pieces illuminates the space, casting a spectrum of warm hues across the room.
Neons from Unintentional Drawings and Ground Zero series
Kraft explains the history behind his pieces, citing “unintentional drawings” as the influence behind his current neon collection. He began his artistic career working with sculpture rather than neon, but progressed to the up-and-coming art form in 1983 when he moved to Minneapolis. From there, he has found inspiration in a variety of sources, focusing on shapes and manmade marks -- created intentionally or otherwise. The second source of inspiration in his series was an article by the New York Times about a blues club in Mississippi called Ground Zero. Kraft spoke about the interest he had in the graffiti on the walls of the club. A unique type of art, these names and messages littering the walls fabricated a web of communication among the club’s patrons who came from all walks of life and from cities across the country. Like a method actor immersing himself in a role, Kraft traveled to the blues club to take his own pictures of these marks. He returned with the photos to his studio, where he superimposed neon on top of certain sections and painted over the tubing to give the light a tempered feel, much like the atmosphere of the club’s bathrooms.
Throughout the following years, Kraft continued to be drawn to symbols, deciding to take his travels across the world rather than across the country. He made his way to the caves of northern Spain, then most recently to Sulawesi, Indonesia. The artist described his arduous trek into the caves, documenting the strenuous hike spanning several days in the images on his storyboard pictured below. Kraft returned wanting to recreate the markings made by the earliest humans, who used only the flickering light from makeshift lanterns to create their drawings. Describing Dots, a new piece from his cave series, Kraft spoke about the effect he produced by placing neon behind cast paper, on which he drew with pencil and covered with acrylic and water. This layering of different media allowed Kraft to reproduce the rugged effect of the time-weathered cave walls. Kraft’s Spikey Haired Woman, shown below, also illustrates his commitment to accurately depicting what he observed. Before fixing the neon to the piece, Kraft added and scratched off acrylic to mimic the lichen which had slowly encroached upon the cave drawings over thousands of years.
Spikey Haired Woman, Kraft and his pictures from Indonesia, Kraft and Dots
Visiting Kraft Studio and meeting the artist behind Seraphin Gallery’s pieces was an enlightening experience. Learning about his influences over the years and his artistic process brought Kraft’s works to life. To see them firsthand gave the impression that the artist’s in-depth research and connection to marks -- in Indonesia or Mississippi, made 50,000 years ago or thirty -- is reflected in every brushstroke or fold of neon tubing. Seraphin Gallery currently has Column Interrupted, pictured below, on view.
Column Interrupted, 2010, Aluminum, neon, transformer, Ed. 4/9 (5 available), 58 1/4" x 1 3/4" x 3 1/2"
Kraft’s neon work has certainly taken the country by storm, much as Dan Flavin’s did in the 1960s. Though Flavin and color field-artists such as Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko were originally inspired by the chaos of abstract expressionism, they took the idea of painting saturated color fields and developed a minimalist approach to artmaking. Following in the footsteps of these prominent 20th century artists, Kraft also approaches his work with bold colors (be they in neon or acrylic) and sleek forms. Both in his public neon installations and in Column Interrupted, Kraft achieves maximum visual impact with his streamlined shapes in eye-catching hues.
To read more about Craig Kraft’s work and travels, see Timeless Travels Magazine’s Spring 2017 issue, and more under the “Observations” section of the Seraphin Gallery website.
By: Carl Straw, Seraphin Gallery Intern
Edited By: Alyssa Laverda, Associate Director
Seraphin Gallery’s Víctor Vázquez is currently featured in a solo retrospective at the Museo de Arte in Puerto Rico. His collection entitled Pulguero/ Flea Market, is a recalling of the last 30 years of artistic production, and runs from April 27th to the end of October 2017. His conceptual language, referred to as archaeological panorama, is developed through multi disciplinary techniques such as photography, installation, and sculpture. Through this lens he explores themes related to migration, memory, the body as a semantic structure, and the relationships between word and image.
In many of the works he expresses the demand for identity, ritual, politics, and anthropological inquiry. Vázquez touches on themes of the duality of language and meaning, as well as the relationships between nature and culture. His intentions are set to investigate and reflect on how the state imposes, reproduces, and legitimizes acceptable social practices. Walking through the collection viewers are interrupted by multiple pieces, all scattered throughout the gallery space. Similar to a flea market where multiple objects of interest are scattered, the installations are arranged to intrigue the viewer and pull them in for a closer look. Once there the viewer is able to see the relation to difference and demand for identity that drove Vázquez with each of the works.
After traveling to India, China, and Japan in 1982, Vázquez launched his artistic career. During this time he studied art, literature, and the cultural history of these regions. He started by experimenting with photography under Jan Jurasek; and, later attended the School of Visual Arts in New York City and the Maine Photographic Workshop. From these experiences he began to develop his relation to identity, and what it meant to be apart of a location, person, or moment.
In Pulguero/Flea Market, Vázquez is utilizing elements similar to previous series such as No vamos a Llegar pero vamos a ir- We Will Not Arrive But We Are Going, 2013 and Un Cuerpo a Cuerpo - The Body to Body, 2005; in the sense that the exhibit represents a unique opportunity to get to know or rethink the symbolic imagery of our time.
Body to Body II, part of Un Cuerpo a Cuerpo, 2005, Lambda Impression, Diptych, Photograph
In Un Cuerpo a Cuerpo, completed in 2005, Vázquez explores the metaphoric aspect of the human body. This result shows his belief that the body can be “a landscape of unknown battles”; consistently removed and replaced in a moment or environment, disturbing it’s purpose. His work Body to Body II is not meant to be strictly Puerto Rican based. By including a geographic region Vázquez is identifying a purpose of the subject. The body is rather meant to symbolize a race/geographic, and not gender or specifics, rather the body represents a grouping of individuals, shrouded in their heritage. This creates an identity for the viewer to place the form in. By doing so Vázquez is calling on notions of true identity and what the purpose of identity is, if the flags weren’t there would our subjects have an identity?
Recently Seraphin Gallery has included his works in a group exhibition entitled (Other) Stranger, a collection of photographs that illuminated reflection of the self through creating awareness of the Other--- our constructed perception of the different, the outsider, the strange, and foreign--- and association with the Stranger---the unknown and anonymous inhabitants that surround us in urban society. His works in this collection dealt mainly with the conceptual and formal qualities of the human body and the empathetic viewer relations. He is concerned mainly with questioning the way we perceive, understand, and relate with one another and our environment.
Vázquez is actively maintaining a presence in the contemporary art world through different interpretations of social order and displacement. This retrospective is the culmination of his artistic career thus far. Seraphin Gallery is proud to represent him established as both an international artist and artist whose works are in the public and permanent collections of the Artium Center, Lehigh Photography Collection, Museo de Arte de Ponce, Museo del Barrio, Museum of Art Los Angeles, The Smithsonian Institution, among others. For inquiries about Vázquez and works available please contact the Seraphin Gallery. Check here to visit his page on our website.
Thank You For Attending!
By: Abbey Nesbitt, Seraphin Gallery Resident
Thank you all for attending the reception for our latest exhibition, Déjà Vu Blue, this past Friday. We had a great turnout! All of us at Seraphin Gallery and especially Michael Morrill appreciate your support and are excited to have his show on view for the next few weeks.
This exhibition will be on display until Monday, June 26th.
Our hours are from Wednesday to Sunday from 10 A.M - 5 P.M, otherwise by appointment.
Trappist I, 2017, Oil and acrylic, gold leaf, wood panels, 24” x60”
Michael Morrill’s most recent body of work explores the essence of déjà vu and repetition through a minimalist geometric lens, where reflection and lushness play an integral part. In exploring the holy and luxurious artistic traditions of pairing blue and gold, Morrill's works become a platform to contemplate the connection from antiquity to present day-- citing specific ideologies and correlations through the spheres of religious dogmas, biblical anecdotes, and deep space scientific inquiry. What is it about the qualities of gold and blue that bring us closer to, or feel on the verge of, a liminal space?
Déjà vu Blue, 2016, Oil and acrylic, gold leaf, wood panels, 40" x 100"
Morrill graduated with a MFA from the School of Art at Yale University and a BFA from the School of Art and Design at Alfred University. Since the mid-1980’s, Morrill has been devoted to painting, and producing contemporary abstraction in drawing, painting, and interdisciplinary media. Based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, his works have been shown in numerous solo exhibitions at locations such as Carnegie Museum of Art, University of Pittsburgh, Mattress Factory: Museum of Contemporary Art, and Carnegie Mellon University. Morrill is also a part of the permanent collections of the Carnegie, UPitt, and the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, along with multiple corporate and private collections across the nation. DéjàVu Blue is Morrill’s second solo show at Seraphin Gallery.
Right: Tigris-Euphrates, 2017, Oil and acrylic, gold leaf, wood panels, 72” x 36”
Seraphin Gallery hosts the Spiegel Wilks Curatorial Seminar exhibit:
ESSAYS IN WORDS AND IMAGES
May 5th-10th, 2017
This is an exhibition of the works made by the MFA students in Kaja Silverman’s Art Now lecture course, which she teaches at Penn every spring, and the undergraduate and MFA students in Essays in Images and Words, the Speigel-Wilks Seminar that she and Sam Mapp taught at the ICA this past semester. They show us that art can be a complex form of thought. We invite you to Essays in Words and Images, a pop-up exhibition with undergraduate and MFA art students at the University of Pennsylvania.
With works by Rebecca Tennenbaum, James Allister Sprang, Henryk Tomassini, Monika Uchiyama, Konhee Chang, Gwen Comings, Julian Feng, Yaochi Jin, Yasmin Gee, Jeremy Jirsa, Linda Lin, Zoya Siddiqui Christina Qiu, Connie Yu, and Eric Yu, these multimedia works examine the idea that art can be a complex form of thought
By: Lindsay Covington, Seraphin Gallery Intern
Seraphin Gallery’s current exhibitor, Madeline Peckenpaugh, has started a successful career as an emerging and prolific artist since her graduation from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 2015. In just two short years, she has earned the Philadelphia Mayor’s Award, as well as had a couple of her works acquired into public collections, and --most recently-- is featured in her second solo exhibition at Seraphin Gallery, entitled Inhabit. This artist creates both wall-sized oil paintings as well as smaller studies in series that together form an artistic “language”. Her hand is evidenced in every work, as she adds and subtracts paint in a sculptural manner. No matter the size, each of Peckenpaugh’s pieces is saturated with movement and depth, both conceptually and in her physical application of paint.
“Each painting is a space made up of quiet collected moments that are often not remembered. These subtracted moments slice yet consolidate within one another, each by holding a very specific language of mark.” -- Madeline Peckenpaugh.
When looking at Peckenpaugh’s pieces, it becomes all too easy to lose oneself in the experience. Her canvases envelop the viewer in what can only be described as a kind of hypnosis. Stunning both in size and boldness of palette, each of Peckenpaugh’s works has a unique effect on the viewer. Even returning to the same painting, one notices new details, patterns and textures hidden in plain sight. This viewing experience is not one-sided -- when taking in her works one engages in a dialogue, not only with the painting but also with one’s own thoughts. Though imbued with color, each of her pieces is a blank canvas of sorts. The viewer observes or reinterprets different details at different times, reflecting the realm of his or her own subconscious and memory onto the canvas. The paintings are not static objects but ever-changing and at times romantic, taking the viewer on a new journey upon every study. While the initial visual impact of Peckenpaugh’s works is striking, it is the depth and complexity of her paintings which makes them so extraordinary.
One of her brighter works, Of Youth is an arresting piece. One cannot help but to stop and let the work engulf the senses. Though this painting dominates the space it occupies, it does not overwhelm. This piece is very indicative of the artist's work in that its initial effect on the viewer is met with balance, richness, and a curiosity to explore in this created space. On any given day, the abstract nature of the shapes in the foreground could inspire flames -- another day, trees. These inherent landscapes feel as though the viewer can enter the work, and brush aside the immediate foliage found in the foreground.
"The feeling of solely ‘being’ is harnessed within the intuitive drive that flares spirited strokes across these large format canvases. These works not only allude to memory, the remembrance of inhabited space, rooms laid in, shifting perspectives, but also resound to the actuality of having presence-- existing within space. These paintings make us aware of our own bodily engagement, breath, and spatial dimension, while slowing time to a halt; the works envelope the viewer in a single moment of time in constructed planes of sculptural paint. This exhibition comes at the heels of her return from a residency in Nepal, and a renewed investigation of her core concepts."
--Alyssa Laverda, Associate Director
Seraphin Gallery presents a solo exhibition, titled Déjà Vu Blue, featuring paintings, prints, and sculpture by Michael Morrill. The opening reception for the show will be held at the gallery on Friday, May 12, from 6 - 8 PM. This event is free and open to the public. Déjà Vu Blue will be on view until June 26.
Michael Morrill's most recent body of work explores the essence of déjà vu and repetition through a minimalist geometric lens, where reflection and lushness play an integral part. In exploring the holy and luxurious artistic traditions of pairing blue and gold, Morrill's works become a platform to contemplate the connection from antiquity to present day-- citing specific ideologies and correlations through the spheres of religious dogmas, biblical anecdotes, and deep space scientific inquiry. What is it about the qualities of gold and blue that bring us closer to, or feel on the verge of, a liminal space?
Michael Morrill graduated with a MFA from the School of Art at Yale University and a BFA from the School of Art and Design at Alfred University. Since the mid-1980’s, Morrill has been devoted to painting, and producing contemporary abstraction in drawing, painting, and interdisciplinary media. Based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, his works have been shown in numerous solo exhibitions at locations such as Carnegie Museum of Art, University of Pittsburgh, Mattress Factory: Museum of Contemporary Art, and Carnegie Mellon University. Morrill is also a part of the permanent collections of the Carnegie, UPitt, and the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, along with multiple corporate and private collections across the nation. Déjà Vu Blue is Morrill’s second solo show at Seraphin Gallery.
For more information on Michael Morrill and some of his past works click here.
By: Victoria Ryan, Seraphin Gallery Resident
Reading Room | Art India Magazine | India Art Fair | Devi Art Foundation Collection | Currier Museum of Art | First Kathmandu Trienniale | Boston Center for the Arts
Seraphin Gallery artist, Youdhi Maharjan has recently been featured in numerous art fairs and exhibitions both nationally and internationally. This past fall, Maharjan was a part of the Reading Room, a group exhibition of South Asian artists working with books and text in New York. Through his inclusion in this exhibition, his work has been promoted in an essay by Amit Kumar Jain entitled "Between the Covers" that was featured in Art India Magazine. Please see a link to this feature at the end of this article.
In February, his works were exhibited as part of the India Art Fair in New Delhi, which is considered to be one of the most recognized and leading fairs for modern and contemporary art in South Asia. Recently his work has been collected by the Devi Art Foundation, one of the leading promoters and collectors of contemporary and conceptual art in South Asia, please visit their website for more information.
Currently, Maharjan is showcasing his work in a group show titled "Deeper Cuts: Contemporary Paper Cutting", at the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, New Hampshire. This exhibition features the works of artists who use diverse techniques of paper cutting; Maharjan's work is placed alongside artists such as Kara Walker. The show will be open until May 21st, for more information please visit the Currier Museum of Art's website here.
He is also currently featured in the First Kathmandu Trienniale which is curated this year by Philippe Van Cauteren, Artistic Director of Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (S.M.A.K.) in Ghent, Belgium. The Trienniale showcases the works of over 50 artists from over 25 nations. The mission of this creative endeavor is to cultivate a voice of the Nepali people throughout the arts all over the globe. Being chosen for the Trienniale, and to be part of the Devi Art Foundation among the other notable successes in this article, demonstrates a catalyst in Maharjan's career. Seraphin Gallery is looking forward to continuing our work and partnership with the artist, and relay our congratulations on recent achievements.
For more information on the First Kathmandu Trienniale, please visit their website here. Maharjan has also submitted a paper that was presented at the panel for the South Asian Studies Association Conference at Claremont McKenna College in California.
He will also be featured in an exhibition to be held at the Cyclorama at the Boston Center for the Arts called AD 20/21; Art and Design of the 20th and 21st Century from April 6 - April 9.
Later on this year, he will take part as a panel member for the Contemporary Himalayan Art, Fifth Himalayan Studies Conference at the University of Colorado in Boulder, CO from September 1 - September 4. For more information on the Conference, please visit their website here.
Next year from February - March, Maharjan will be having a solo show at Tarq Gallery in Mumbai, India. Tarq Gallery is a contemporary art gallery whose mission is to gain awareness about the diverse contexts of art. The founder of the Gallery, Hena Kapadia, has been involved in the field of contemporary art, both in India and abroad for about five years.
Seraphin Gallery will be consigning new works by Youdhi Maharjan within the next couple months, please contact Alyssa Laverda, Associate Director to inquire as to our current inventory by this artist and any further inquiries. email@example.com or (215)-923-7000.
To find out more about Youdhi Maharjan and his works, please visit our artist page for him here.
There has been a constant tug of war between what can or can't be categorized as book art. The author-artist will often celebrate the form of the book and the state of flux that it is believed to be in. However, this constant flux makes it impossible to understand book art by a single definition.
By: Alyssa Laverda, Associate Director
Phillip Scarpone’s recent investigation through the grounds of the Allegheny Cemetery in Pittsburgh has yielded a collection of cement-lined relief sculptures that speak to the impermanence of legacy, but also the human will for the endurance of it. This series is created through the heavy constructive materials of concrete, steel, and wood, but combine together to form softened and worn crests of grace— capturing the essence of redemption and forgiveness that we all hope to achieve in the end. Inspired in his work by personal experience and memory, Scarpone now looks to how we as a society invoke remembrance. How is a lifetime memorialized? At the rudimentary core of any burial ground is an inexplicit silence, the invisible sense of awe and respect, and a sublimity that seems to emanate from the earth-- reminding us of our own mortality. In attempting to engage with this fortitude, Scarpone collects imagery, places his feet in the steps of strangers, and opens up to the well of loss, death, and the celebration of life.
Throughout The Allegheny Clusters, monumental association occurs in the plaque-like structures that are set (or not set) on steel bases. The cement forms intimate weathered stone, beaten by the elements until canyons of carved grooves become velvety bluffs. This illusion of heaviness, the suggestion of lasting stone, simulates the complex depth of hushed sensitivity and alludes to the profound sense of permanence of a final resting place. The subjects seem to be excavated to expose their amalgamations; pieces of tombstones, mausoleums, parts of the vigilant protection of weeping angels and blessed saints, fragmented symbols of justice and virtue are all abstractly combined to form a visual narrative of piercing moments. Juxtaposing these images establishes a tangible connection between them, reforming their separate appearances into a group identity. These three-dimensional machined collages create a meditative platform for contemplating our age-old societal construct of interment, while also offering a concerted tribute that encompasses the commemoration of these deceased inhabitants arising out of the physical markers of their individual sacred sites.
The formal compositions of the works refer back upon themselves, back onto the concept of the cycle, of a story that has completed. The three positions of the sculptural works (floor, stand, wall) act as a beginning, middle, and end, but are resolute in their own parts. Tied to the ground, Allegheny Cluster #3 exhibits heavy mass— the gravitational pull of a starting point. The standing piece dictates a labored transition from the floor to the wall, as it has evolved but appears to still rely on the complete support of the steel bracing. Allegheny Cluster #2 frees itself from these ties and sits on the wall at eye level. Apart from the rest, the work bears its own weight and floats on the white wall. Offering multiple interpretations, such as this program of ascension, the Allegheny Clusters are each intrinsically powerful and individually unique.
Scarpone's process for creating this particular collection interweaves traditional sculptural practice with cutting-edge visual technology. From photographic source material, the artist manipulated three-dimensional sketches through mesh scanning sequences and CAD CAM software. The works were then created in birch plywood using a triple axis CNC machining method along with conventional metal fabrication techniques. As these images become more and more removed from their original state, becoming lesser facsimiles of the original carvings, further "deterioration or fragmentation of information in the images and objects" occurs. This digital or synthetic erosion feels akin to the organic wear of the carvings.
The works at first seem macabre, but when one is engaged with the pieces, they appear secure and serene. Their understated nature asks the viewer to come in close, to appreciate the muted aspects of their mellow transitions between flowers, hands reaching out, and lit torches. The pieces create a stilled moment, much like the charged and subdued atmosphere from where they were inspired. The pensive quietude, sealed space, and states of recollection of Scarpone's journey through the Allegheny Cemetery is fully realized in these three substantial works that stand nuanced in their monumental yet moderated forms.
For more information on Phillip Scarpone, check out his artist page for him here.
By: Lindsay Covington, Seraphin Gallery Intern
Seraphin Gallery is excited to announce three new installations by Millicent Young. Young has also recently completed a series entitled Cantos for the Anthropocene, along with a poignant short film explaining the ideas behind her pieces and her artistic process.
Her first installation piece, “Cinnamon Vessel”, is made from wood and horsehair. It hangs so that the delicate strands of hair attached to string float in wisps above those passing below. As Young emphasizes in her video, the hair engages in a kind of dance with light and the viewer, revealing its different shades depending on the point of observation. The artist seeks to create unique shapes in her sculptures, weaving together a new kind of visual discourse that taps into the well of beauty and mystery characteristic of our existence. As Young puts it, “My intention was to make forms that I did not know: ones that I had not made before and that had no pre-existing narrative.” She bases many of her works on the Buddhist Koan -- a paradoxical question or anecdote -- using the art-making process itself and interaction with the materials as a time to contemplate the meaning behind the forms she molds.
Her other two installations, “Continuum” and “Garment” come from her Known Not Known series, featuring sculptures of horsehair linked to grapevines. During the making of these pieces, Young was struggling with the passing of her father, whose “journey from the Known into the Not Known” inspired her work. The viewer gets a sense of this flow from one state to another, the crossing of a liminal boundary, when looking at the sculptures. The lack of pretension of the materials, their mixture of delicacy and strength, and the movement of their sinuous shapes evoke a peaceful sensation that can be appreciated regardless of one’s background. No explanation or knowledge of art is needed; to take in Young’s sculpture is as effortless and satisfying as taking a long, deep breath. In the words of artist Gerald Ross, “She chooses her materials carefully and specifically to saturate her work not with grandiosity or pointed societal commentary but instead with innately understood natural and human truths.” To look at Young’s sculptures is both an introspective experience and one that encourages the viewer to contemplate his or her role in the wider scope of nature and humanity.
Young’s latest project, Remembering Awe, is a short film in which she guides an interviewer through her most recent works. In her installation space, Young displays pieces completed in a variety of media, ranging from horsehair sculpture to ink on washi paper and tea bags dug out of plaster. The art featured in this video comes from her series Cantos for the Anthropocene, and it expands upon the themes present in her sculptures installed at Seraphin. It connects Young’s own experiences to those felt by people across the world, as the title suggests. Part of the beauty of her work is its conceptual evolution through the process of its production. Young states in the video that “what I did not intend to work with when I began it was my own memories and experiences of violence. And loss.” This improvisation and transformation characterizes not only her art, but also the human condition in general, making her creations accessible to all. For her, the works hope to invite the viewer to remember the feeling of awe, of being overwhelmed by the grace and understated beauty of the natural world.
For more information on Millicent Young, please visit our artist page for her here.
By: Christina Tian-Qiu, Seraphin Gallery Intern Edited by: Alyssa Laverda, Associate Director
The Untitled (Blue) series, is composed of four square-shaped canvases, all focused around the nuanced tones of a single blue. While Silberthau’s medium is oil paint, the texture of the deep indigo hues recall a combination of waxy crayon and powdery pastel. The interplay of medium imitation and the belabored application of the paint encourages a tactile encounter that leaves the viewer lost in a sea of sensation and contemplation. The worked surface quality of Silberthau's painting is one of the most alluring aspects of the artists work. The desire to touch these canvases parallels the lulling sensation of the monochromatic hues.
The blues of this series alternate and bleed seamlessly into each other, at times resembling lighter cerulean, or an almost dusky violet hue. Silberthau has intuitively sectioned his canvases with etched or scratched black lines that slice the canvas into organized strips, creating a geometric work-board in which the labor of artistic creation is clearly visible and emphasized. The black paint and penciled lines meld into the waxy blue, alluding to constructive blueprints, juxtaposed levels of planned spaces. This draftsmanship quality of the work infers careful precision against an industrial atmosphere where drips and smoke and machined rhythm combine.
While all four works are untitled, there is one that is set apart from the rest in the singularity of its dimensions. It demonstrates how despite the analogous connections within this series, each piece carries weight, and retains its own individuality. This 24” x 36” canvas (referred to as the “Rectangular Untitled”) exhibits and translates the same methodology that the other paintings offer. It is sectioned off in geometrical sequence, and the range of blue hues produce a waxy texture that congregates in expressive bands throughout the canvas. However, looking at this work alone, it is easy to get lost within the painterly and stylus-like markings. The Rectangular Untitled almost possesses a lexical quality in which the wave like black paint serves as a script that is weaved and etched onto the blue surface. A serpentine mark covers the left half of the canvas, bridging the horizontal strips into a congealed whole. The markings of textures that Silberthau instinctively creates on these canvases can be understood as a descriptive system, both abstract and referential. The fusing together of color and textures imbue each work with a hidden complexity that entices the viewer to look beyond the rich textural qualities so readily apparent.
Silberthau explains that “the starting point of each work is that each mark is needed.” The blue series clearly demonstrates the importance of mark and elaborates on its expressive and evocative qualities. While Silberthau’s other works are mainly monochromatic, “reducing color to ‘black’ or ‘white’” these blue paintings are examples of how such a practice can be extended beyond such distillation, opening up the canvas to other sensual and emotive possibilities.
For more information on Howard Silberthau, please check out our artist page for him here.
Private Reception: March 23, 2017, 6 - 8 PM | Public Opening: March 24, 2017, 6 - 8 PM
Seraphin Gallery is thrilled to present Peckenpaugh’s second solo show, entitled INHABIT. The exhibition will open on March 24th and run through May 7th. The public opening will be held on Friday, March 24th from 6pm to 8pm.
The feeling of solely ‘being’ is harnessed within the intuitive drive that flares spirited strokes across these large format canvases. These works not only allude to memory, the remembrance of inhabited space, rooms laid in, shifting perspectives, but also resound to the actuality of having presence-- existing within space. These paintings make us aware of our own bodily engagement, breath, and spatial dimension, while slowing time to a halt; the works envelope the viewer in a single moment of time in constructed planes of sculptural paint. This exhibition comes at the heels of her return from a residency in Nepal, and a renewed investigation of her core concepts.
Madeline Peckenpaugh earned her BFA from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. She has been featured in numerous group exhibitions throughout the Philadelphia area and in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She is the recipient of many honors and awards including The Philadelphia Mayor’s Award. Her works are also part of the permanent collections of the Woodmere Art Museum and 1900 Arch Street.