|Home lies at the exit of every train stop, in every traveler’s mind. They travel around for their ideals and their lives. But home is where their hearts lie. To make someone feel touched sometimes all it takes is a rose; to fall in love sometimes all you need is a detail. Sometimes you end a relationship with a drop of tear, but you spend the rest of your life getting over the break-up. Maybe that’s why love is great. I feel the world with my senses. Although the emotions died, my sorrow always gets past the dead emotions, and I cling on to the happiness in the past. The details once buried in my memory seem so vivid now. They rekindle the unforgettable memory.|
Pensive States, one of Broadway Gallery’s more compelling recent shows featured an impressive roster of internationally-acclaimed artists working in a variety of media and styles. According to curator Christina Zhang, the exhibition aimed “to eliminate the boundaries of memory, history, and geography in order to make a state of true contemplation possible.” Through the themes of people, animals, and nature and the relationship between the three, Pensive States explores the moments of meditation we find alone and in our relationships with nature. In the natural environment and in our contact with the flora and fauna of these locales, we question the meaning of our existence, and the timelessness of a greater spirit’s creations. The artists in this exhibition reveal these themes through a variety of skillful techniques and styles that range from Surrealism to Abstraction, Magical Realism, and Symbolism to Portraiture.
Turkish artist, Sefkat Islegen expresses a state of meditation in nature through her skillful and colorful linoleum prints of forests and trees. Prints such as In the Forest and Lonely Tree anthropomorphize these tall independent life forms, imbuing them with a sense of humanity—emotions such as sadness, thoughtfulness, and love. According to Islegen, painting is “an activity of thinking and creating, and it is also a way of living.” This philosophy and approach to meditation clearly emerges from her work. Similarly, Australian painter Helen Joynson finds inspiration in the natural environment, though her oil paintings differ greatly in style from Islegen’s. Through a multihued palette and a naïve-styled brush stroke, she evokes joy and spirituality in images of flowers and fields in paintings such as Love Our Planet and Flowers are Fun. Almost Fauvist in style, these bold images of nature are intended to brighten the soul of the viewer with the enriched spirit and energy of nature.
Portraiture and human relationships with nature are depicted by artists Daniel McKinely, Guillermo Riveros, and Giovanni Carlo Rocco. Following where Giorgio De Chirico left off, painter Daniel McKinely is a Surrealist whose pensive state is one of wonder and imagination. Describing his thoughtful process he explains, “I have many questions as I work on a piece that are answered only upon completion. The viewer may have many questions about the work that can only be answered by their imagination.” His mysterious, dreamlike imagery, such as his oil-on-canvas painting, Sister Night, which depicts a woman wondering a lone road in the midst of a desert with a strange mountain range looming on the horizon, attest to this thought-provoking approach and attitude.
Another Surrealist, Columbian photographer Guillermo Riveros, approaches the concept of man and nature from a completely different vantage point. In his series, Golden Age, depicting a series of ambiguous relationships and actions between figures in animal masks, raises many questions regarding human interaction that are simultaneously poignant, funny, and disturbing. One ponders man’s propensities for love, violence, and sexuality set against the verdant backdrop of New York’s Central Park.
Also dealing with human pensive states are Italian painter Giovanni Carlo Rocca’s sensitively rendered Magical Realist portraits. Using unconventional painting techniques, such as transparent fiberglass resin layered over areas of pigment, Rocca abandons paint in favor of pure pigment mixed with dammar varnish and balsam de Canada, materials commonly used in restoration. Employing techniques he’s culled over a 20-year period as a paintings restorer, he displays his understanding of the materiality of paint, its limits, and possibilities. He also displays his fascination with the pensive states of melancholy, solitude, and loneliness. In Malinconia, for example, his innovative painterly techniques, in concert with his mastery of content, work to produce intensely effective portraits of what pensiveness is all about: private meditation.
All of the artists in the show explore both the spiritual and the temporal qualities of the meditative experience. While some expose the potential threats of pensive states, such as loneliness, solitude, fear, mystery, and the unknown, others reveal its Zen-like qualities of peace, tranquility, and joy. By bringing these diverse works together, Zhang has succeeded in allowing the intriguing parallels between works to emerge and reverberate. Pensive States certainly evokes a concentrated pensive state of wonder and amazement in the eyes and mind of the viewer.