Luanne E Witkowski‘s solo exhibition, New Observations, stops visitors in their tracks with precisely executed extremes. Saturated colors gleam, and a range of different textures bring materiality to the foreground. These works are also about place. Witkowski has said that the environment is her sketchbook, and among her sources of inspiration are the broad expanses of sky, sand, and water at the ocean, specifically Cape Cod.
Viewers may find themselves engaged in multiple ways: an immediate, formal reaction to the work, and located at an alternative, specific place and time. The texture of the crushed rock may prompt a path beneath one’s feet, but there it is, at eye level, fixed in tandem with vibrant, shimmering surfaces that are so smooth and sleek, they bring to mind industrial fabrication. However, these pieces are hand-made, and maintain a human scale, as is evident in the installation views of the exhibition. Many compositions offer two possible, layered perspectives, whether in terms of orientation, or, as in Flow, in terms of scale. It is at once a sand bar seen from the sky, and a piece of earth meeting a puddle.
A few paintings in New Observations incorporate granular media alongside areas of pigment and resin. The cleanly defined pools and arcs heighten textural contrasts and relate to previous series, as the artist’s first paintings incorporated clay on paper.
The spare yet intense palettes of the mixed media compositions in New Observations are easier to situate within images of nature than art, but Bahar Yurukoglu‘s art provides some interesting points of comparison. Yurukoglu is also inspired by graphic forms and extreme colors. Her landscape of choice for her most recent series is the arctic, and her palette is neon. The result are sculptural installations full of sharp angles and saturated colors, not unlike Witkowski’s current series.
In a recent article on AnOther by Natasha Stallard, Yurukoglu discusses the impulse of escapism associated with her installations. We could in turn take the immediacy of Witkowski’s paintings in New Observations as prompting an opposite response, one of presence, and the sensation of being in a natural environment. To help make this point, I couldn’t resist incorporating a vintage National Geographic photograph from the their must-visit Tumblr blog, FOUND. This view of the Sahara desert provides the opposite extreme of Yurukonglu’s muse, the arctic environment, and the sand that is so relevant to the shoreline, where Witkowski spends much of her time.
Luanne E Witkowski’s striking and memorable exhibition is on view at Kingston Gallery through May 1, 2016. Please join us and meet the artist at a talk and discussion at the gallery on Sunday, April 24, at 2pm.
Luanne E Witkowski is an American artist working in a wide range of media and reflective and social practice, with works in collections throughout the United States and abroad. She is a member of the Kingston Gallery, Boston, MA; represented by Hutson Gallery and AMP Gallery both in Provincetown, MA. She exhibits regularly and produces environmental and site-specific installations. Luanne is a member of several artist organizations including the United South End Artists, Mission Hill Artist Collective, and the Provincetown Art Association and Museum. More examples of her work can be seen in Contemporary Cape Cod Artists on Abstraction, (D.Forman, 2015, Schiffer Publishers) and on her website, www.lewstudio.com. Her Basic Training for Artists and Creative People Workshops (Healthy Artist/Healthy Studio) are offered in collaboration with public and private institutions and individual consultation.
In addition to her studio practice, she is the Communication Design Studio manager, adjunct faculty, and LR-MFA Mentor at Massachusetts College of Art and Design; she teaches Creative Thinking in the Critical & Creative Thinking (CCT) graduate program at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, and is an internet entrepreneur and business owner.