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Opening Artist Reception-FEATURING KARINA BANIA + MICHELLE ARMAS
May 19, 2016 @ 5:00 pm - 7:00 pmFREE
THE TOPOGRAPHY OF A SWIM: FEATURING KARINA BANIA + MICHELLE ARMAS
Sea Contemporary Art Space announces the opening of The Topography of a Swim, an exhibition of new work by California-based mixed media artist Karina Bania and Georgia-based abstract painter Michelle Armas. At once decoratively flat while implying unbounded, limitless space, Bania’s shifting transparent planes and Armas’s sprawling acrylic wash “pool” paintings delve into the spatial possibilities of the picture plane. This exhibition marks the first time these national artists are showing their work in tandem.
There is a distinct harmony of spontaneity and intention, of intuition and inspired calculation, in Bania’s works. Each smear and transparent patch of color seems to have simultaneously found its own inevitable shape and to have been dictated with clarity.
Every element is exactly where it has to be, not where it happens to be, to create interplays of spatial flux. “My paintings explore the abstract geographies that we navigate in our lives,” says Bania. “Each painting begins as a field of space from which an environment arises. As the space is acted upon, a conversation ensues between emptiness and fullness, stillness and movement, objects seen and energy felt. The compositions that emerge are built from these contrasting forces, which together, create a sense of place and balance.”
Bania’s materials and techniques were culled in part from years spent abroad. While studying in India, Bania was introduced to local pigments and dyes that are now a signature of her work. The dye stains and even their halos grace empty fields of raw untouched canvas. They are not accidents of the medium, but important components of the composition.
The imprints that Armas’ acrylic washes leave on the psyche are long-lasting. Utterly atmospheric, this series conveys a sense of ephemerality, as if air or water, has been momentarily captured and held between the frame. In a pursuit of spatial possibilities, swaths and plumes emphasize the literal expanse of the picture plane while suggesting infinite, explorable spaces behind it.
The movement of the artist’s acrylic washes and its spectrum of saturation to transparency are part of the works’ subject matter. These expanses of pigment are visual evidence of the liquid flow of paint – how it drips, pools, stains and runs to the edge. Even the absorptiveness or resistance of the surface, how the acrylic pools are held by the canvas, becomes a component of the picture.
Armas works from instinct, producing an extraordinary output that is both vital and ever-changing. It is in this new series that the artist’s treatment of color on the two-dimensional picture plane is brought to its most nuanced effect. Palpable but subtle, this definitive new collection places Armas among the most striking of contemporary art’s colorists.