Reinventing the Line

Reinventing the Line: Post-Digital Artworks by Mike Lyon

“Reinventing the Line,” an exhibition of works by Mike Lyon on display in Weinberger Fine Art’s Drawing Room, is a phantasmagoric experience. Lyon, a post-digital artist, creates prints and paintings using automated machinery and digital technologies. The results are expansive; Lyon’s exhibited artworks range from geometric spirals of paint on canvas to photorealistic monochrome prints on paper. Although the works featured in “Reinventing the Line” showcase a broad range of style and form, they are all markedly process-forward and technologically advanced masterpieces.  

“Sinjun,” Acrylic on paper, 30 x 42 inches

“Sinjun,” Acrylic on paper, 30 x 42 inches

Many of the artworks currently on display in the Drawing Room are composed of vibrantly colored lines forming hundreds of overlapping squares. The artist uses a CNC (computer numeric control) router to build repetitive, spiraling patterns of acrylic paint that rely on gradient and contrast to convey figures. Up close, the many squares appear tile-like, causing the artworks to resemble patchwork quilts. As viewers step further back from the paintings, the lines of color and geometric shapes give way to images of faces and figures. A mesmerizing video of Lyon’s process accompanies his painted masterpieces, inviting viewers to contemplate Lyon’s artistic and technological practice alongside his finished works. Process is thus central and transparently visible in the exhibition.  

Portraits comprise the majority of Lyon’s square spiral paintings. Partially obfuscated, heavily shadowed faces peer out of kaleidoscopes of shapes and lines. In some paintings, the image is clear enough to identify the subject’s facial expressions; others are so abstracted that the figure is barely identifiable. The geometrical precision of Lyon’s spiraling lines affords the artworks a matrix-like quality. The repetitive square layers function as a mediation of the images that they simultaneously construct and obstruct. In these portraits, technology both creates and obscures imagery.

“Miguel,” Acrylic on paper, 30 x 42 inches

“Miguel,” Acrylic on paper, 30 x 42 inches

In addition to the mediating power of technology, Lyon’s portraits pose the question of recognition. The artist explores the possibilities of conveying faces and bodies with geometrical shapes and starkly contrasting colors rather than traditional representative techniques. The result is both highly conceptual and strikingly visceral: it poses an optical anomaly and encourages contemplation of the technological landscape that has drastically influenced the production and consumption of art.

“Sara Reclining” deviates drastically from Lyon’s signature square spiral portraits. The artwork, a Japanese woodcut print on rice paper, represents a woman turned away from the viewer, lying nude among the ruffled sheets and blankets that adorn her bed. The print is a blue monochrome, ranging from gentle robin’s egg cerulean to deep midnight navy. The woman is posed so casually, so innocuously, that she seems to be as much a natural part of the bed as the sheets that surround her. The scene emanates a deeply personal atmosphere, as if viewers are glimpsing a profoundly intimate and delicate moment in the woman’s quotidian life.  

“Sara Reclining,” Japanese woodcut, 42 x 77 inches

“Sara Reclining,” Japanese woodcut, 42 x 77 inches

“Reinventing the Line” is homage to the expanding possibilities of technology’s influence on art. Lyon creates a visual reality in which automated machinery acts as mediator between imagery, subject, and viewership. The exhibition spotlights the complex relationships between representative experimentation, technological innovation, and contemporary portraiture.

Observe and Reflect

Observe and Reflect: Paintings by Richard Mattsson

Richard Mattsson creates art as a reflective practice. Like a meditation, his paintings exist without subliminal concept or conscious messaging. They convey the unfettered experience of the Loose Park landscape, of a Kansas City neighborhood engulfed in the yellow-red blanket of autumn leaves, or of a garden in the golden glow of late summer. There is a quiet, unassuming magic in these works. It is the magic of every day beauty, of a clear and open mind, of getting lost looking at the trees on your own street. 

Mattsson’s artistic process revolves around observation and spontaneity. Rather than attempt to control the development of his artwork, Mattsson allows intuition to guide the evolution of his paintings. This liberating, self-trusting practice lends itself to a delicately ephemeral body of work. The finished products capture fleeting moments, such as the aura of pink haze in the last seconds before the sun sinks below the horizon or the shimmering reflection of trees in a pond on a cloudless summer day. Mattsson’s solo exhibition in Weinberger Fine Art’s Drawing Room is a melodic gentle reminder to viewers to slow down long enough to experience Kansas City’s subtle, constantly changing beauty. 

“Anna in the Garden” is a captivating example of Mattsson’s seamlessly serene representative style. A nude woman stands unselfconsciously in an exterior garden, her hand delicately outstretched to caress the leaves of a tree. She exudes an effortless grace, appearing at once alert and at ease. It is as if she blends in with the foliage around her – as if she herself is a natural and expected part of the floral landscape. The juxtaposition of the tree’s red-gold leaves against the lush greens and blooming flowers in the rest of the garden tell us that it is early fall, and the trees have just begun to change color. Everything is elegantly precise – the season, the golden afternoon light, the bloom of the garden, the gentle touch of the woman’s finger to the leaves. The scene emanates a quiet, verdant tranquility.

“Anna in the Garden,” oil on canvas, 48 x 48 inches

“Anna in the Garden,” oil on canvas, 48 x 48 inches

Although “Studio with Crotons” is an interior painting, it is almost as rich with flora as Mattsson’s landscape and garden pictures. Potted houseplants with thick, red and green leaves adorn small tables scattered around the foreground of the painting. A geometric rug covers a stretch of the honey-colored hardwood floors. A mirror expands across the entirety of the wall on the right edge of the painting, reflecting a second perspective of the room. A third perspective is found in a smaller mirror on the left side of the painting. In this mirror, the artist and his easel are visible. Paintbrush in hand, Mattsson peers calmly but intently at the room before him. He is a self-effacing figure in the artwork; like the woman in “Anna in the Garden,” he is both at ease and fully engrossed in his serene surroundings. The artist’s presence in “Studio with Crotons” alludes to his signature meditative, observation-based process.

“Studio with Crotons,” oil on canvas, 48 x 55 inches

“Studio with Crotons,” oil on canvas, 48 x 55 inches

Richard Mattsson’s paintings are the stunning product of being present in one’s own quotidian surroundings. They are the art of meditation, introspection, and observation. Of his artistic process, Mattsson comments, “My visual perception is the sum of me looking outward and simultaneously looking inward.” As he works, delicately mediating his surroundings and his emotional response to them, Mattsson strives to return to the authentic state of pure observation experienced almost exclusively by children. His paintings invite us to do the same.   

Vantage Point

Vantage Point: Works by Antonio Marra by Shoshi Rosen

Italian-born painter Antonio Marra’s artworks are a stunning display of color and geometry. Deep, meticulous streaks of vibrant blues, purples, yellows, and greens slash across his canvases to form phantasmagorias of shape and color. With a unique multi-perspective technique, Marra carves layers of vibrant, animated patterns into his abstracted paintings. 

Marra’s paintings are instantly striking, but they grow increasingly more enchanting with prolonged visual engagement. As viewers peer at the canvases from different angles, the images begin to shift and change. In fact, the paintings each display a triptych of perspectives, which unfold and alternate as viewers circle the paintings. Standing before Marra’s artworks, a beautiful, endlessly spiraling kaleidoscope comes to mind – and the longer one looks, the harder it becomes to look away. 

In order to fully experience Marra’s paintings, movement is obligatory. Access to the many overlaid colors and patterns embedded in the artworks is contingent on the path of the viewer as they pace before the paintings. Certainly, no two sets of eyes will experience these masterpieces the same way. As viewers map their paths in front of the artworks, they concurrently map a unique pattern of dynamic, morphing colors and shapes. The effect is both mesmerizing and playful, not unlike a handheld kaleidoscope. 

Left;  Alexa, Be Quiet,  acrylic on canvas, 39.4 x 39.4 inches  Right  The Lust and the Burden of the Painter , acrylic on canvas, 47.2 x 39.4 inches

Left; Alexa, Be Quiet, acrylic on canvas, 39.4 x 39.4 inches

Right The Lust and the Burden of the Painter, acrylic on canvas, 47.2 x 39.4 inches

Marra’s two paintings in Weinberger Fine Art, “Alexa, be Quiet” and “The Lust and Burden of the Painter” are thus highly individualized artworks. They are as much characterized by streaks of color on canvas as they are by the unique movements of their viewers. The artist does not fashion a singular visual experience, but rather encourages viewers to forge their own. For Marra, reality is subjective, multi-dimensional, and in a state of constant fluctuation. 

Circling “Alexa, be Quiet,” a drastic contrast in color and pattern materializes. From the left, the painting appears to be composed of many interlaced triangles of vibrant neon yellows, reds, purples, and greens. Straight on, the bright colors pale to an array of pastel sherbets, teals, and periwinkles. From the far right perspective, the colors give way almost entirely; only white, black, and pale blue are visible, and the complex pattern of interlaced triangles simplifies to a few large shapes. The emergent difference between the three perspectives is captivating and extraordinary. 

Antonio Marra’s painted kaleidoscope concept fosters highly individual experiences and compels multiple, extended viewings. The paintings embrace orphism’s spiraling vortexes of color, optical art’s hypnotic illusions, and geometric abstraction’s mathematical precision. They are at once delightfully simple and beguilingly complex, brazenly forthright and mysteriously secretive. Marra’s artwork requires active, dynamic, and extensive viewership.

Portrait of the Midwest

Portrait of the Midwest: Clare Doveton and Larassa Kabel’s “Beyond the Horizon”

Majestic, black and white horses tumble through the air. Their hyper-realistic bodies are captured mid-jump, or perhaps mid-fall, suspended delicately in the precarious moments before their inevitable landings. Beside them, celestial landscapes glow with an eerie yet inviting warmth. They are luminous and alluring, like sirens calling sweetly to viewers to enter their mysterious otherworld. Tangled and snarled thistles are cast in black silhouette against backgrounds of plain white. This is “Beyond the Horizon,” a joint show of works from Larassa Kabel and Clare Doveton. 

Kabel’s cascading horse drawings conjure a distinct tension. Their muscles bulge and flex; their skin ripples and stretches. Their manes and tails billow around them as they approach inevitable collision with the ground. Though this impact is just seconds away, the ground itself is not visible. Kabel removes her plummeting horses from context, instead placing them against backgrounds of plain white. The fate of the animal is thus uncertain. Perhaps they will gracefully land their intentional, elegant jumps. Perhaps they will crash clumsily into the ground from abrupt and injurious falls. Or perhaps they will tumble endlessly through the air, trapped in Kabel’s empty settings. 

Clare Doveton’s landscapes, too, convey an unmistakably tense quality. The artist reimagines scenes of Kansas nature with glowing pink horizons, pulsing cosmic constellations, and fiery red fields. The paintings seem soft, warm, and hospitable. They are tempting and indulgent, inviting viewers to immerse themselves in the lush, mystical scenery. And yet, the works are quietly and dissonantly menacing. The glinting, rosy light of the horizon is visible only through an ominous, dark ring of deep purples and maroons. Doveton’s alluring, dreamlike havens are just out of reach, just beyond the looming circles of darkness. The paintings are at once romantic and tragic, tangible and elusive, enticing and isolating. 

Clare Doveton, This Vast Night, oil on canvas, 48x96 inches, price upon request

Clare Doveton, This Vast Night, oil on canvas, 48x96 inches, price upon request

Larassa Kabel,  At Last , colored pencil and artist’s tears on paper, 64 x 35.5 inches, price upon request

Larassa Kabel, At Last, colored pencil and artist’s tears on paper, 64 x 35.5 inches, price upon request

When exhibited together, Kabel and Doveton’s works call and respond to one another. On the north wall of Weinberger Fine Art’s Drawing Room hangs “At Last,” one of Kabel’s falling horse drawings. The monochrome animal dives headfirst into the artist’s undefined abyss. Its veins protrude from its outstretched neck, and its limbs fan out from its twisted body. Across from Kabel’s drawing, “This Vast Night” by Doveton depicts a gleaming sunset beyond a lens-like ring of ominous gloom. Whereas Kabel’s horse drawing is subject sans setting, Doveton’s landscape painting is setting sans subject. Whereas Kabel extracts color from her plummeting horse, Doveton employs an expansive range of colors, even more varied and vibrant than the open-air Kansas landscape from which she draws inspiration. “At Last” and “This Vast Night” exemplify the subtle yet profound interactions between Kabel and Doveton’s unique bodies of work. 

Left: Clare Doveton, Tall Thistle, Matfield Station 2, ink on paper, 30 x 22.5  Right: Larassa Kabel, The Tremor of Dusk, colored pencil and artist’s tears on paper, 34 x 23  Prices upon request

Left: Clare Doveton, Tall Thistle, Matfield Station 2, ink on paper, 30 x 22.5

Right: Larassa Kabel, The Tremor of Dusk, colored pencil and artist’s tears on paper, 34 x 23

Prices upon request

Both Larassa Kabel and Clare Doveton simultaneously romanticize the delicate beauty of Midwestern imagery and warn of its perils. The artworks on display are irresistibly calming yet anxiety-producing. “Beyond the Horizon” is a chilling and nostalgic portrait of the Midwest – of the fields that raised us, of the creatures that spoke to us, and of the skies that inspired us.