By: Emily Schecter, Seraphin Gallery Intern
Edited by: Alyssa Laverda, Associate Director, Seraphin Gallery
Natalie Alper’s “Energy Fields” emanate a primal power that is related to both nature and the human psyche. These drawings evoke chaos, each containing its own unique spectrum of energy. Alper completes every drawing in one sitting, creating dense vibrating fields through a careful and intricate use of metallic pigment and ink on paper. The mixing of opaque, transparent, and reflective materials causes oscillating lines to either accumulate, or scatter – generating a matrix of variations in complexity. The tone and color of these compositions are altered to build a space that is both elaborate and perplexing.
Alper explains that what she creates is a direct outcome of her own force and a “physical conversation between the How and the What.” This process that she describes is the way her own passion and touch communicates with the surface of the paper and the materials being used. This exchange appears as spatially intricate webs that are best described as “Energy Fields,” conjuring metaphors for the distribution of matter and natural forces.
Alper’s drawing, August #2, contains open spaces with a few dense areas of cadenced markings towards the edges of the composition, giving the impression of magnetic clusters. Bands of vibrations pull together, creating tension within the open territory. The space is electrically anarchic, as if at any moment the masses will consolidate. In contrast, August #5 is densely covered by frantic marks, leaving the paper’s surface barely visible. This drawing is just as chaotic as the last, yet turmoil is derived from overwhelming expansions of undulating lines that pulsate with energy. In both drawings, a gravitational momentum causes disorder and frenzy, reflecting the uncertainty of the unknown.
Alper’s drawings connect with the nature of growth, and unpredictability. She wants these works on paper to “hold their own place, create their own space and time, and renew their presence each time they are engaged.” They allude to the idea that the process of change can be seen, but is driven by a force that cannot be identified. The fluctuations of space, light, and energy reinforce that these drawings emanate elements of Chaos Theory and how the motions of cause and effect interplay through an abstract visual language. These formations capture matter in a state of flux, demonstrating the monumental disturbance that any type of change can engender.
Natalie Alper was born and raised in the Bronx neighborhood of New York. She received an Masters of Arts degree in history from Boston University, and then became the first woman to teach painting at the Museum School in more than a hundred years, where she taught until 1993. Alper’s first solo exhibition was at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston in 1972, followed by a show of drawings and watercolors at the Addison Gallery of American Art of The Phillips Academy in Andover. Her work is included in the public collections of The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Fogg Art Museum of Harvard University, The Phillips Collection in Washington DC, The National Museum of American Art, and The Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. Natalie Alper currently lives and works in Boston and is represented by the Seraphin Gallery in Philadelphia, PA.