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