Art We Love & Why – Works on Paper

This week we’re looking at works on paper and the unbelievably rich array of techniques on view all around town. Some artists have taken venerable forms like the wood block print and married them with 21st century technology, while others are using methods to create fine art that would have been unthinkable a century ago. All of these artists have mastered their craft and created work that you just can’t take your eyes off – and sometimes can’t wrap your mind around.

Simone Siegel, Resume Innocence (mixed media on paper, 50 x 39) – Schoolhouse Gallery

Works on PaperLooking at Simone Siegel’s multilayered work is like peering into the cosmos. There’s incredible visual depth on this very flat piece of paper. Orbs of sprayed paint pulse like stars through a veil of brushstrokes evoking the sky. This piece has a feeling of looseness and spontaneity which belies a rather involved creation process. First, Siegel has painted a composition of coral colored lattice punctuated by “nebulae” with halos of orange and pink. Then she brushes on a masking gel which protects areas from a next layer – in this case a thick wash of blue paint. The dried gel is removed, exposing glimpses of the painting underneath and finally bursts of white spray paint are applied. A laborious process realizing a lyrical, ethereal work of art.

Matt Neuman, Coil 2 Framed (wood block print, 23 x 23) On Center Gallery

Artists have been carving images into blocks of wood for centuries but Matt Neuman has brought the woodcut printmaking process firmly into the 21st century. Using a computer driven laser cutter and inspired by “physics, origami and space-time” he creates intricate, sinuous patterns on the blocks. But that’s just the beginning. It’s the colors he chooses, the way he applies and mixes them on the blocks and then layers each block’s imprint on the paper that results in these dazzling prints. The optical effects are mesmerizing and the mastery of line and color give these small works outsized impact.

Katrine Hildebrandt-Hussey, Joined Drops, (hand burnt lines on paper 30.5 x 44) Room 68

As with all the work featured here this week, this piece caught my eye from across the room and then pulled me in deep when I got up close. At a distance it brought to mind ancient cultures and the kind of mysterious patterns people find in their cornfields. There’s a contradictory feeling of graceful lightness and heavy symbolic weightiness. And then you find out that it’s been created by burning small marks into the paper. No paint, no ink, just a carefully controlled burn. For me this bravura technique added an even greater sense of wonder to a piece that was already pretty beguiling.

Esteban Del Valle, The End is Near: Miles to Go Before I Sleep (colored pencil on paper, 22x 17) Albert Merola Gallery

Works on PaperSome works of art are so stunning that all you can think for the first 30 seconds is “how did they do that?” Here, Esteban Del Valle has captured both an instant in time and translated the experiential into two dimensions. If you’ve ever jogged through Provincetown Cemetery, you’ve probably already started to feel a twinge of the familiar. The graves rushing by in your peripheral vision, the fading light in the sky and the pounding of foot on pavement. But how would you translate that experience into a work of art? In this self-portrait he’s done it – captured lightening in a bottle. It’s explosive, it’s beautiful and you should run right through the cemetery to see his whole show at Albert Merola Gallery.

 

George Rogers is an artist and ceramicist.  After a career in museums including the MFA in Boston and the Smithsonian, he and his husband moved to Provincetown full time three years ago.