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.