When Words Get Tired

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Matti Sirvio’s current exhibition When Words Get Tired is on view at the artist’s gallery is Muscat, Oman.  With this collection of works, Sirvio expresses his observations of society and the larger, deeper messages that don’t sink in.  With the increasing pace of life and technology has come the gradual loss of the weight of words, and in a world saturated with imagery, the weight of symbols and signifiers.  “As the world seems to be spinning faster and faster, pictures have to fight for people’s attention.  Yes, the modern culture is described as visual, but is it really?” Sirvio questions.  “Very few people have any capacity to look at Rothko’s paintings.  They have too much undefined room in them.”

Our digital devices leave us less and less space, pulling us away from contemplating present, undefined moments and into social media, ads, and images.  Sirvio’s artwork does not bow to this cultural change.  The artist continues to work from a removed, spiritual place.  He calls these works the imprint of the Divine on his heart, “God’s handwriting on the walls of my private chambers.”  His subtle dimensionality in color and shape remains strong, making statements both emotive and beyond this world.  The theme of the exhibition is meditations on life and death, the before and after.  “The Storm is Passing Over” depicts two planes, the higher one shades of the underbelly of a lightening cloud, the lower is thick.  The grey-blue hues are solid and muddy.  The image could be interpreted as the earth, solid and receiving, and the quality of movement above in the heavens.  The meeting of eternal life and the form that ends in death, the before and after.

“Tired Words” is a fiery piece, like the orange tip of a flame exploding with golden hues.  Darker elements bare a defiance.  Is it the emotion of the words that still know their weight, the symbols with unmoving meaning?  With eyes hovering above our phones, we scan written words and skip entire paragraphs.  We scroll through images and bypass symbols in search of more.  Like these dark shapes, they haven’t lost their meaning.  We have lost our ability to receive it.  When Words Get Tired invites you to rest your gaze and meet the work with your own emotions and experiences.  The exhibition welcomes prolonged interaction as one searches for meaning.

Sirvio cites “Zeitgeist as being a moving piece in the particular collection of works for him.  It touches on the country the he affectionately calls home: Oman.  “The central piece of this show is a big painting called ‘Zeitgeist.’  It’s a reflection of my observations in Oman today.  The country is seeking her identity sometimes from the unknown past, sometimes from the unpredictable future.  There is a battle raging for people’s souls.  The invisible powers are like a huge magnet pulling people to all directions.”
To view When Words Get Tired type Matti Sirvio Galleria into Google Maps.  There you will find directions to the gallery space in the mountains of Al Amarat, Oman.  The exhibition is on view until March 31st.

mattisirvio.com

@matti_sirvio

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Far from The Tree

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Katherine Fraser’s paintings exist on the edge of fantasy.  Some pieces veer more towards reality, and others begin to cross the boundary into a dream state.  Her current exhibition Far from the Tree depicts figures from well-known fables to probe the concepts destiny and agency.  This collection of work, on view at Philadelphia’s Paradigm Gallery, questions the fixed destinies that these characters live again and again in the retelling of their tales.  In each painting there is the feeling that something is about to happen, like the smell of the air changing as a storm approaches from a far-off place.  The well-defined roads in these published and printed stories meet alternate paths.

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In “Promises to Keep” a young woman wears a blue and white dress and smock.  Her blond hair is braided over her shoulder and she is holding a lamp and an open pocket watch.  The figure looks adult, but the style of her clothing is childlike.  She faces the dark side of the woods, while the sunset is diminishing behind her.  Will she go into the dark carrying her own light?  Curiously, in “Two Paths Diverged” a woman with shorn blond hair emerges from a dark wood haphazardly dressed.  Red roses in full bloom decorate the dark.  These images could be the same female figure in two stages of life, a timid before and bold after.

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In “To Know the Difference,” the quilted pattern of a young man’s jacket mirrors the chain linked fence behind him.  He is not ghostly, dissolving into the fence, but solid.  The mirroring of the diamond pattern makes it seem like he is constrained by outside forces.  Far behind the fence a soft light is filling the mist in the woods.  It looks like he is embedded in his environment, and the halo of mist catches the light like a dream of what else is out there.

“The Larger Questions” and “Infrared” were next to each other in the gallery.  While the qualities of the images are very different, one edgy and darkened, the other soft and natural, one gallery visitor noted that both women appear to be ready to take action.  They are both redheads, one the color of a nightclub pulse and the other an autumnal hue.  Shadowed eyes and bold shoulders, versus clear eyes and a calculating gaze.

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Among these portraits Fraser painted nature scenes that, at first, appear unassuming.  A prolonged look reveals the clear bright sky above the dark mystery of the woods.  Spindly branches are simply filling up space, then they are moving toward you in a gesture that could be welcoming or threatening.  These painting provide periods of rest in this complex series, then reveal depths that you thought must be hidden.

Far from the Tree is on view until April 21st at Paradigm Gallery + Studio: 746 S. 4th Street, Philadelphia, 19147.

Katherinefraser.com

Oriano Galloni – Silent Soul

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Serene oval faces with soft smiles resemble the faces of the saints in ancient iconography.  Yet these sculptures have a strange quality, setting them apart from anything recognizable.  Oriano Galloni found the inspiration for his Silent Souls series in nature.  The artist was walking in an ancient forest when he felt overcome by other-worldly presences.  The forest, full of towering, old trees, became a sacred place for Galloni.  The Silent Soul sculptures are works created to provoke conversation about the meeting of our world and another realm.  They embody the majestic height of the trees and the softness of natural colors.  The marble is the connection to another world unlike our own.

Each of these sculptures, these souls, are unique.  While many are a combination of marble and wood, one is entirely marble.  While the face is white, the rest of the form is a cascading mixture of white and grey.  It is like the immensely tall figure is clothed in clouds.  Another is sculpted like an athlete.  The metallic silver body is like form of a warrior with a peaceful expression.  These works provoke thought about what each form represents and what kind of presence it had in that forest.

See more of Oriano Galloni’s work here: http://www.orianogalloni.com

Matan Ben Tolila – Bat Kol

In the cave #2 70x55 cm 2017

Matan Ben Tolila is an artist who lives and works in Jerusalem.  In the past, the Israeli artist explored themes related to conflict and escapism.  For his current exhibition Bat Kol, Ben Tolila changed his creative process entirely.  The precision of his brush strokes is reflective of his former approach.  For Bat Kol, he let the initial forms, literally, take their own shape on the canvas.  Learn more about the exhibition which recently opened at Noga Gallery in Tel Aviv, Israel below.

Q: Why did you choose the name Bat Kol?

A: In the Jewish tradition, there are narratives, mainly in moments of conflict, in which a divine voice (In Hebrew: Bat Kol) comes out, as a non-official spokesperson of God, and represents a different perspective on the events. Since there is a strong visual narrative in the series of paintings in my exhibition, I thought it would be right to have moments of revelation, moments of words spoken from a higher source.  

Q: What inspired you to change your creative process?

A: After feeling for a long time that I was not excited anymore by the act of painting, feeling that it had been a long time of walking on familiar paths, I decided to completely change my method of painting. I placed the white canvas on the floor, poured diluted paint on it and let the arbitrary stain be the starting point for the painting. In the created stain, I saw in my imagination caves or melting mountains, and I got the sense of visiting new, unfamiliar, unconscious places, strange to me but belonging to me (and only me) as well.

Q: There are a lot of caves in this work, and then open spaces with water as well.  What do the caves and the water represent?

A: The caves and the open sceneries were not born out of a conscious decision, but intuitively. An artist’s studio is some kind of a cave or womb and I suppose that when I paint a cave or some other place of separation, I detach myself.  But it also enables me to wander in a beautiful, mysterious space. 

Water and open landscapes often appear in my paintings and they are the place where I can express continuing flowing and gentle movement.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit more about a few pieces?

Stars 44x41 cm 2017

“Stars”:  This is the smallest work in my exhibition and it describes a simple moment where the viewer’s point of view is from a dark cave towards a hole in the wall. Through the hole, the starry skies are seen. The combination of beauty and light along with darkness and great distance, are the essence of this work.

Facing East 130x190 cm 2016

“Facing East”I wanted to create a painting of an embroidered fabric screen hiding an open panoramic landscape. The screen is in the front of the painting, acting as an obstacle or interruption to the right order. On the screen are two suns embroidered and from the name of the work you can understand it is about a rising sun. In this work, there is a clash between the natural aspects of the view showing from behind the stretched screen, and the artificial embroidered landscape on the fabric. The natural and the artificial, the revealed and the hidden, are present together in the simple moment of sunrise.  

Look 160x100 cm 2017

“Look”: In this work, there is also a clash between the natural, represented by my figure and by the dog beside me, and the many poles placed in the space artificially. This is my self-portrait, a little bent, staring at the viewer, as if seeing something the viewer can’t see yet. The poles are not straight in the ground, they are tilted as if subjected to the ravages of time. The long shapes of the poles here are an expression of a disturbance, and they add a wondering about the nature of the background space and its quality. 

 

Bat Kol at Noga Gallery

60 Ehad Ha’am st.
Tel-Aviv 6520219 Israel
nogagallery.com

Monday-Thursday 11am-6pm
Friday-Saturday 11am-2pm

(Story originally published on INTLFineartfine.com)

POSTE RESTANTE

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Matti Sirvio, painter, pastor, and humanitarian aid worker, has started a new venture.  He has opened an artist-run, as yet untitled, gallery space.  Off the beaten path in Muscat, Oman, the upcoming show is titled POSTE RESTANTE.  The name refers of a post office that holds onto mail until recipients call to receive it.  Strategically placed outside of the town center, the gallery is a place that people must seek out.  “You go there through an exotic mountain road until you finally reach this newly built suburb area called Al Amrat.  Wild donkeys walk by.  In the evening, the lonely moon shines over the surrounding mountains.  Not one person could accidentally stumble in here. Only those who cannot live without art will find it,” he says.  Tucked away on the outskirts of Muscat, the gallery doesn’t have an official address.  Visitors can type ‘Matti Sirvio Art Galleria’ into Google Maps to get directions. “I want people to come with an expectation to see if they ‘got some mail.’” Alluding to the name of exhibition, he hopes that people will seek and find a special connection to a piece of artwork.

The name POSTE RESTANTE speaks to Sirvio on multiple levels.  It holds the elements of adventure and searching, and also temporality.  These traits are reflective of his paintings.  Sirvio’s artwork captures the emotion within fleeting moments, meditating on the ephemeral qualities of life with joy and gratitude.  His current works in the gallery “contribute to deeper thoughts, a lot of hope and joy for the coming Christmas season.”

Transience is a part of life for Sirvio.  While he calls Oman home, he is originally from Finland.  He has lived, worked, and travelled throughout Central Asia, nations formerly part of the Soviet Union, and the Middle East.  Even though he returns to Oman, he doesn’t stay in one place for too long.  “With the gallery, I hope to travel less, but I’m afraid this is just wishful thinking,” he says.  “I have a show planned in Europe for March and another one [in Muscat] for the fall.  Besides that, I do continue visiting our churches in Central Asia and the Middle-East.”  While Sirvio’s work is “very rewarding” the frequent travel can be challenging.  “May God give me more wisdom on how to plan my schedule.”  You can keep up with the artist here:

Mattisirvio.com

Instagram

POSTE-RESTANTE will be on view from December 16, 2017-January 16, 2018.

(Originally posted on INTLFineArtFund.com)

Water, Heart, Face – Jerusalem Biennale

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(article originally posted on intlfineartfund.com.)

The Jerusalem Biennale has presented a variety of Jewish voices in the arts since 2013.  This year, the theme of “Watershed” was explored in spiritual searching, masculine Jewish identity, the relationship between church and state, and heaven and earth, among many others.  The image of the watershed, geological bodies of water that converge and separate in different places, is a metaphor for the connections and disparities between people, as well as pivotal moments in history. 

The Jerusalem Biennale will be held from October 1 – November 16, 2017.  26 Exhibitions are held throughout various locations in the city, with the work of 200 artists on display. 

We spent four days touring the exhibitions and meeting with artists to capture what is happening in the fine arts in Jerusalem.

Water, Heart, Face

“As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart” (Proverbs 27:19)

Curator Avital Naor Wexler describes her exhibition Water, Heart, Face as such: “It’s about the gathering of people as a reflection.  It could be a mirror, but it is water face to face.  I think that if the sentence [in Proverbs] says something about water, it says something else than the objective reflection, like in a mirror.  It has more depth.  It has more movement.”  Water is a vehicle for a variety of experiences and connections.  Naor Wexler found this to be a diverse theme for the exhibition.  The story of Narcissus comes to mind, a man obsessed with his own reflection, “but in this sentence, it talks about the heart as well.  It talks about a relationship between two people, more than one, not with yourself.  I think that it is interesting because the art is a kind of pond, a lake, something that is a reflection between the artist and the audience.”

Naor Wexler believes that when someone sees a piece of art they are drawn to what they see of themselves or the person who created the work in it.   “When you meet art the thing that attracts you is because you find yourself or you find the artist, or someone else within the work.”  She wanted to compare Narcissus and Proverbs to explore the variety of reflections in art.  “I chose several artworks that are self-portraits, but with a twist.”  The artists, or symbols of themselves, are in various emotional states with the presence of water and reflections.

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One of the works by Vered Aharanovitch features a character who she has labeled as representing herself.  This young girl is depicted in four sculptures as a mermaid within fishbowls.  Twisting and turning, drawing her own blood with sea urchins, her expressions are aloof, pained, and frustrated.  In the glass, observers see her pain as she maturing through heartache, just as they see their own face reflected.

Naor Wexler designed the exhibition to be “something that you can come and meet, and something that will come to you from the art itself.”  The question of what attracts a person to a work of art remains an open question to Wexler, one that Water, Heart, Face,provides space for.

Water, Heart, Face includes the work of: Aharon Kritzer, Alma Shneor, Carolina Bonfil, Debbie Kampel, Eliad Landau, Eliran Jan, Einat Arif-Galanti, Gideon Rubin, Merav Shin Ben-Alon, Matan Ben Tolila, Noa Arad Yairi, Renana Salmon, Shulamit Etsion, Vered Aharonovitch, Yoni Salmon, Yifat Shtainmetz Hirst.  See the exhibition, and several others, as 12 Bezeq Building, Chopin Street, Jerusalem.

Artwork: Aharon Kritzer, Vered Aharanovitch

Matti Sirvio

Matti Sirvio encounter-900

“Encounter”

In Matti Sirvio’s paintings there is time and space, the movement of the soul.  His paintings simultaneously celebrate the felt senses, the beauty in life, and the nature of a spiritual existence. “I think that colors and their composition are the key to all visual communication.  I love connecting them, experimenting the way that they relate to each other.  I sometimes do just long color meditations (sounds much more weird than it is.)”  With his eyes closed, Sirvio spends time envisioning colors and diverse patterns.  “It helps me to move objects and see how certain colors serve certain messages.”

On Sirvio’s Instagram account, it is sometimes hard to tell what is a painting and what is a photo.  The play of shadow and light on a building, cast-off objects in the sand, appear at first to be Sirvio’s painted works.  Upon closer inspection, you see that they are all pieces of the quiet town of Muscat, Oman.  In compositions that most people can witness every day without reverence, the artist sees more.

For over thirty-five years, Sirvio has been a humanitarian worker through Greater Grace World Outreach (GGWO) in Eurasia and Central Asia.  While he treasures the many places that he has lived in, Oman is now home.  “I fell in love with the Omani people.  They are very gentle, silent and friendly. For some foreigners, this country is eventless and even boring.  For me it’s a privilege.”  Fourteen years ago, he attended a conference on Mumbai, India.  Through contacts there, the opportunity to work in Oman presented itself.  It would take some years for Sirvio’s schedule to allow for him to work in Oman with GGWO.  When he was able to visit for a conference, he also found a place for his artwork.  “I was invited by the Protestant Church of Oman to do a weekend conference in Muscat.  I often travel with my art and also work in hotel rooms during my travels.  I took some of my paintings to a local gallery and connected with them.  That resulted in a solo exhibition here.”

“My artistic journey has its intensive creative times and long times of silence as well.”  Sirvio was born and raised in Finland where he studied art.  He originally wanted to purse becoming an art therapist.  But, as a young man he felt called to humanitarian work and as an artist, he felt disconnected from the art world.  “As a young person, I found the art world to be extremely selfish and self-oriented.  Besides that, I had a really hard time connecting with all the perverted art that started spreading in the seventies.  I didn’t want to be a part of it.”  Deep into his journey as a humanitarian worker art would re-emerge for him in a way that was healing.  “Twenty-seven years later I was full of art again. I just had to start painting.  I didn’t have a choice.  It didn’t just make me happy, but it helped me to manage my soul.  Art is not the most important thing in my life, the presence of God is.  Art is a helper.”

The painting “Encounter” communicates a spiritual way of experiencing what comes and goes.  The spiritual is a constant, a thread woven through every part of life.  The soul need not suffer when something meaningful ends, but have joy for the impression that was left and for the meaningful encounters that will also come and go in the future.

Two figures are in the shape of doorways, each one emitting some of kind of movement.  The one on the left appears to contain light, while the shape on the right is red.  The light feels like a spiritual force, while the red is earthy, human.  The two are open to each other to mingle, to merge, but the temporal of nature of the “Encounter” implies that they will each return to their spaces and close their doors.

These colors and symbols illustrate the nature of an encounter from a spiritual perspective.  A person can form a lasting attachment to an experience after it has passed, returning to themselves, yet remaining somehow changed.  Also, the joy of the peak of the moment does not have to turn into despair because it ends.  If there is more to life than moments, then there is no need to mourn what is lost but celebrate what remains and what will be part of the never-ending life of the soul.

In Sirvio’s paintings, there are dreams, prayers, scents, and sensations.  The artist is a deeply spiritual person who clearly has a reverence for life.  “I love all the places where I have lived. God gives you a special love for it. Without that I could not see myself connecting with other cultures and people.”  He is writing a book about the GGWO ministry Central Asia and paints in his spare time.  “I continue dragging my paintings all over the world, exhibiting them wherever I can and praying that I could reach one more person with the love of Jesus.”

mattisirvio.com