Gwen Avant: Either Way
Gwen Avant describes her approach to painting as spiritual alchemy. She begins with a gut feeling, transferring her emotions and visceral reactions into color and marks. “I start as if in a wrestling or a boxing match. I take jabs at the paper or at the canvas with the thoughts and feelings inside me: ‘I don’t know;’ ‘I’m afraid;’ ‘I don’t understand.’ Confusion, struggle, grief, difficulty begin the process.” Quieting herself, Avant responds to the results on the canvas, making visual choices that transmute raw expression into images that communicate acceptance, beauty, and peace. “I let the unconscious bring forth the image; I try to listen, I’m trying to learn. In the end, the painting itself still holds some charge of the difficulty, the emotion or struggle it began with. But the whole is acceptable, perhaps beautiful. My hope is that the viewer can, by looking at the work, get a sense of acceptance … of being ok with what is difficult or can’t be understood.
Gregory Klassen: Heliotropism
Trained as a painter, Gregory Klassen has become interested in creating environments that reflect his fascination with natural processes. His approach to painting emphasizes the action of materials, underlining paint’s interaction with, for example, gravity or evaporation. Klassen’s first serious departure from tradition was to immure his work in compost bins, allowing the canvas to be stained, digested, and shaped in collaboration with organic material and microbes. Most recently he has been exploring other ways of integrating art production with natural forces, working directly with plants, soil, air, and water. Klassen’s art is becoming, in his words, “the design of experiments, the staging of serendipitous expeditions.” For this exhibition, Klassen presented a single gigapan image of a staged environment in this studio, a collaboration with photographer Tom Bamberger.