Friday, March 16, 2018

Paintings by Charles Gniech acquired for the Fine Art Collection of Purdue University

Charles Gniech "Inner Circle" 1996, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 60"

Purdue University - Northwest/NorthCentral in Westville, Indiana—has recently acquired a number of my large-scale paintings for their eclectic and edgy contemporary Fine Art Collection. Eight canvases were chosen from three bodies of work—spanning more than twenty years. Five of the selected pieces come from the “Sanctuary” series of 1996-97.

There are more than four hundred stone circles found throughout Great Britain. The Sanctuary series was inspired by my time spent exploring some of these monuments. The prehistoric structures became a bit of an obsession during that period of my life. I would travel to the UK two or three times each year... spend a few days in London and then hop a train to—what seemed like—the middle of nowhere. Some of the sites were relatively easy to come upon while others were so far removed from civilization that I would find myself on top of a mountain or in a secluded meadow, only to be visited by an occasional herd of sheep. There was a feeling of peace and tranquility at many of these locations—something more than the power of the beautiful surroundings on which the structures were erected. The body of work titled "Sanctuary" was the result of these experiences. And the people that I met were life changing.

I define the paintings produced during the late 90s as “Structural Abstraction.” Although I would render realistic depictions of the structures on location, they were reinterpreted in my studio with exaggerated angles and dramatic lighting. The monuments were translated through planar analysis resulting in faceted structures of mass within dramatic landscapes.

Charles Gniech "Geometric Sarsens" 1996, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 48" 

As of April 2018, the “Sanctuary” paintings will be presented at Purdue University - Northwest /North Central Campus’ in Westville, Indiana. The collection can be seen scattered throughout the two campuses. I’ve been told that the presentation looks nothing like a typical “Corporate Fine Art Collection.”

Purdue University Northwest is located at 1401 S. U.S. Highway 421 in Westville, Indiana 46391

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Betty Cleeland at the Hofheimer Gallery

Betty Cleeland "Arabique" 2015, Oil on Linen, 48" x 38" 

An exhibition of brilliantly colorful paintings by Betty Cleeland opened Friday night at the Hofheimer Gallery, 4823 N. Damen in Chicago. When I arrived, I found myself greeted by a crowded, energy-filled gallery­—filled with patrons excited by the unique imagery being displayed.

A quick review of the exhibition statement highlighted Cleeland’s journey of vibrant pattern—inspired by a love of global textiles. The statement also referenced the influence of the German born artist and teacher, Josef Albers. Albers—who had a major influence on American Mid-Century Modern Art—believed that color, rather than form, was the primary medium of pictorial language.

After greeting a few friends, I moved in to take a closer look at the work. The Albers reference seemed pertinent. I found that Cleeland’s imagery explores a strange game of perception—playing with spatial relationship and simultaneous contrast. The beauty of the work is the obsessive complexity of the imagery—the layering of organic and geometric forms. The viewer is presented with a series of constantly changing canvases, were the eye shifts back-and-forth from a linier composition to organic… Cleverly intriguing with a scientific twist.

If you missed the opening reception for Betty Cleeland at the Hofheimer Gallery, the show continues through May 4th. The Hofheimer Gallery is located at 4823 N. Damen, in Chicago. Gallery hours are 11am-6pm Tuesday through Saturday… and by appointment. 847.274.7550