By: Lindsay Covington, Seraphin Gallery Intern
Edited by: Alyssa Laverda, Associate Director
Seraphin Gallery is thrilled to introduce painter Andrew Wapinski to our portfolio. A Pennsylvania native, Wapinski has been exhibiting his works since 2006 in galleries all over the nation, from D.C. and New York to Colorado. This artist, who grew up in a historic coal-mining town, was marked from a young age by his surroundings. How did man affect nature around him, and how did nature in turn rejuvenate and keep producing? This constant push and pull, building and destruction, fascinates Wapinski. He takes these ideas and applies them to his large-scale works, incorporating the concept of time as an element to both erode and heal. The inspiration Wapinski draws from the environment he interacted with in his youth, reflects not only in the visual components of his pieces, but also in his methodology.
Wapinski employs a unique technique to create his paintings. He takes a block of pigmented ice to melt on the canvas, and uses its melted shape to build upon with other pigments and materials. He spends hours reworking the shape and surface, removing some details and adding others to produce a reflection of what he sees as the embodiment of the synergy between the reactants. These materials and the memories of his former surroundings become a jumping off point to “address the tension between man and nature”. Wapinski alludes to the processes and concepts of land being used, recycled, reused, and the prospects for how the ground beneath us will be manipulated in the future. This cycle is visually presented in the atmospheric, yet minimalistic, open spaces that form from the single ‘natural’ event that Wapinski architects—the melted form. The subtly nuanced and stark flat fields of tonal blocking suggests the idea of raw application in the sense of a temporal space, where the viewer can envision both addition and erasure, while the main ‘subjects’ of his paintings are more substantial, but still innately fluid and suggest either impermanence or the malleable beginnings of matter .
When looking at one of Wapinski’s works, such as the one pictured above, the viewer can feel the movement not just in the shape on the canvas, but in the imagination of the ice seeping into its fibers, spreading wider like the industrial expansion of man across an unblemished landscape. His work seems to be a natural and next step in the history of contemporary art stemming from the industrial revolution. A nuanced grayscale snapshot of a fleeting moment in time, echoed by the physical constitution of the melted ice, Wapinski’s untitled piece harkens back to the early daguerreotypes taken at the peak of Parisian Haussmannization. At the same time, the abstract yet emotional nature of his paintings is reminiscent of the era of J. M. W. Turner, who illustrated the chaos of interactions between man and the elements in whirlwind works like Rain, Steam and Speed - The Great Western Railway (1844). Wapinski combines the atmospheric and raw feeling from Turner’s pre-impressionism with the careful contemplation of artists like Millet and L. S. Lowry to form his contemporary version of landscapes impacted by man.
Wapinski has recently exhibited a painting from his fifteen-piece series at the Elmhurst Art Museum in Illinois. His works, as previously mentioned, have made their way across the country and into prestigious publications like The Washington Post. Wapinski launched his successful artistic career after graduating from Kutztown University in Pennsylvania, and earned his Masters in Fine Arts from the University of Delaware. He has also given several lectures, not only at his alma mater, but also at other U.S. universities. His work is currently in numerous corporate and private collections, such as Hilton Hotels, Capital One, Cole, Schotz, Meisel, Forman & Leonard (NY), along with the University of Delaware.