Monday, March 14, 2011

Pencil Artist Ranjini Venkatachari Earns Artist of Distinction

Pencil Artist Ranjini Venkatachari has two pieces that were selected for Still Point Art Gallery's current show, Still Life: Ordinary and Extraordinary. These two pieces are without doubt extraordinary, and they earned Venkatachari the honor of being named an Artist of Distinction. What first drew me to Venkatachari's work were the bold colors...pure colors...vivid tones. The colors are loud but not offensive...striking but not distasteful...intense and vibrant but also wonderfully innocent and moving. Then the design. Primary Colors Simple crumpled scraps of paper in primary colors hung with strips of blue tape. Colored pencils casually scattered on a surface...again, primary colors. More pencils in a clear glass...more primary colors. All set against a neutral beige background. The whole thing pops. Simple. Brilliant. Compliments Red and green. Perfect combination. Another scrap of crumpled paper taped to the wall. A perfect circle missing from that paper forms a hole. Two circles on the shelf. One is the green paper cut from the scrap. The other is a red apple. The viewer faces a decision. Which one shall I put into the hole? 

Primary Colors
A few words from the artist about these pieces:

"Primary Colors" and "Compliments" are part of my abstract-realism series using objects and crumpled paper. This series of works are composed with bold colors set against simple backgrounds exploring the idea of abstraction within reality. Here, I wanted to share with the viewer how light, color, and temperature create a unique visual rhythm setting a dynamic mood for this piece.

Venkatachari was born and raised in southern India. Art has been her passion for as long as she can remember. As a child her favorite drawing tools were her pencils. The vivid colors of southern India were her first inspiration in the world of art. Venkatachari completed her bachelor's degree in mathematics, but was also making art, working in graphite and using ethnic Indian painting techniques. She picked up colored pencils in 2005 when she moved to the United States after her marriage. She chose pencils because of their versatility and because they satisfied her craving for doing simple drawings as well as fully saturated pieces with lots of detail.Since then pencils have been her primary medium. Inspired by simple everyday objects, she embodies her work with a variety of moods by using expressive color and dramatic lighting. She prefers to work in a realistic style, but likes her art to be a passionate interpretation of the world around her rather than a replication of what she sees.

Venkatachari has had her works displayed in many national and international shows across the United States, like the Salmagundi Annual Non-Member Exhibition, Leading Masters of Contemporary Realism (International Guild of Realism) and the Annual International Juried Show of Colored Pencil Society of America. She has received awards is several regional and online shows. Her works have also been published in American Artist, International Artist and Southwest Arts.

Primary Colors. 24 x 18 inches. Colored pencil. $2000.
Compliments. 11 x 14 inches. Colored pencil. $800.

Still Point Art Gallery
March 14, 2011

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

The Still Life of Linda Pearlman Karlsberg

There are certain works of art that I find so appealing and engaging that I find it hard to move on from them. Like a new favorite song that one wants to hear over and over again, there are some art pieces that I want to look at over and over again...tracing the lines with my eyes, feeling the texture with the fingers of my mind, appreciating the elements of design, noting the subtleties of light and shadow, and engaging with the story of the scene. This is the case with the drawings by Linda Pearlman Karlsberg in Still Point Art Gallery's current show--Still Life: Ordinary and Extraordinary, and this is why Karlsberg was selected as an Artist of Distinction. These pieces are so visually appealing...so interesting, rich, and engaging...that I want to keep looking at them in order to take in as much as I can and to continue to find what I might have missed or cannot yet see. With regard to Mermaid's Dance I and II, I enjoy the clear definition of space along with the interplay of positive and negative space. Then, set against this clean right-angled background are these playful little bendy creatures that seem to be moving and dancing and enjoying themselves. A scene of pure delight. My enjoyment in New Wings is based on the variety of shapes...squares, triangles, polygons...and the variety of shades...light gray to black. The interplay of these elements and the positioning of objects is perfect, and the result is an appealing and engaging piece that captures the viewer.

Mermaid's Dance I
Karlsberg calls herself a still life and landscape painter and draughtsman working in oils, graphite and lithographic crayon. She has been drawing and painting for as long as she can remember, and by age eight she had a constant thirst to realize the world around her with pencil or paint. She pursued her desire for technique and mentorship at Tufts University and the School for the Arts at Boston University. While in graduate school and after, she taught drawing, design, and painting at Boston University and other colleges for many years. She and her husband have owned and operated a professional photography studio since the mid-1970s, and so all of Karlsberg's life has been dedicated to creative image making and striving to develop her eye, craft, and sense of expression.

In Karlsberg's words: 

Light is the catalyst for my work. I find it magical and magnetic and I am compelled to capture how light describes, reveals and obscures, and how it renders a mood or drama. Beyond this pursuit of visual richness and potential, I am moved by the enigmatic, lyrical, profound and magical that I find lurking below the surface in the landscapes and still life constructs I depict. 

Mermaid's Dance II
Over the years Karlsberg has preferred the mediums of oil paint and graphite. She prefers to work with graphite on hot press papers, as the mark is distinct and she likes the value range, from white to rich velvety blacks. Karlsberg's paintings are in oils and she prefers working on the hard surface of gessoed panels, similarly, because of the way paint stands on the surface and strokes retain their own character. She likes to work from life and so she builds a still life in her studio by manipulating the objects and the light over many hours, tweaking and changing elements and placement until she finds that it is visually striking and conceptually compelling. She plays with tension produced by the juxtapositions, and at the same time seeks a pervasive serenity and mystery.

The formal elements I manipulate within each still life, allow me to probe the expressive potential of objects, to push the emotional power of their interplay and to develop my own symbolic language. While trying to give visual form to an idea and studying the interaction between entities in the construction, I explore each object’s form enhanced and described by light. I seek to stretch confines, to look beyond the ambiguous nature of function and the limitations of each object’s imposed definition, and in doing so to develop imagery that embodies the universal while exploring the particular.
New Wings
Because these visual elements offer me rich metaphoric dimensions still life is a forum where I can explore life's struggles, contradictions and inscrutability. In this personal realm my still life work is a response to my life’s tragedies, challenges and gifts. It gives form to the tension that results from my seeking personal expression, while inhibited and bound by the responsibilities of earning a living and taking care of a family, as well as from the fight with one’s own creative limitations. At turns, personally resonant themes of discovery, potential, creativity, growth, beauty, spirit, truth, relationship, struggle, fragility and death drive the imagery. At the same time I hope that the work speaks to the universality of these themes and resonates with others, to reach beyond my individual language to engage others’ understanding of life’s experience.

Mermaid's Dance I. 18 x 16.5 inches. Graphite on paper. Framed, $1200.
Mermaid's Dance II. 21 x 15 inches. Graphite on paper. Framed, $1200.
New Wings. 27.2 x 19 inches. Graphite on paper. Framed, $1600.

Still Point Art Gallery
March 1, 2011