Dialects of Glossolalia?
|Joanne Freeman, "Covers Cobalt" - etching|
|Deborah Freedman, "Oaks and Oleandrs #1" - acrylic on polyester|
|Joseph Haske, "Asterion #5" - acrylic on canvas|
|Mark Saltz, Untitled - oil, resin, pigment on linen|
|Marjorie VanDyke, "Ides #1" - oil on canvas|
By Tom Wachunas
“Abstract art is a fundamental distrust of the theory of reality concocted by the eyes.” – Robert Brault
“One of the most striking of abstract art’s appearances is her nakedness, an art stripped bare.” – Robert Motherwell
“Abstract literally means to draw from or separate. In this sense every artist is abstract... a realistic or non-objective approach makes no difference. The result is what counts.” - Richard Diebenkorn
EXHIBIT: Painters Prints / works by Andrea Belag, Deborah Freedman, Joanne Freeman, Joseph Haske, Mark Saltz, Marjorie VanDyke / at The Lemmon Gallery, located inside the Kent Stark Fine Arts Building, 6000 Frank Avenue, North Canton, Ohio / THROUGH APRIL 6, 2019 / Gallery viewing hours are Monday – Friday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Gallery Talk: April 4, 3:30 p.m. / Artist Reception: April 4, 5–7p.m.
Aesthetics 101: Two-dimensional art is a language of myriad dialects, both learned and intuited. When we say that an artwork “speaks” to us, we affirm its capacity to take us into some quiet state of perception that resonates with our own experience of existence. Mindful looking, or listening, if you will, requires slowness, and begins with a surrender, founded upon our intentionality, our willingness to be transported, perhaps even transformed. What the artist makes becomes all the more compelling when it prompts us, the viewers, to look at our world in a deeper way.
Now stretch your imagination to consider the possibility that this highly captivating exhibition of abstract prints and paintings by six accomplished New York City-based artists could be a variation of the phenomenon known as glossolalia (glôs-ō-lā’- lēə). Here’s the Collins English Dictionary definition of the term: 1. ecstatic or apparently ecstatic utterance of usually unintelligible speechlike sounds, as in a religious assembly, viewed by some as a manifestation of deep religious experience / 2. gift of tongues.
Glossolalia, or speaking in tongues, is known in many cultures, most of them ancient. In Christianity, for example, it is regarded as a mystical language coming directly from God, and spontaneously voiced by entranced worshippers. A communing with the divine. To the uninitiated or insensitive, such utterances might well sound like gibberish.
Similarly, it’s no secret that there are viewers who, in their passing rush to identify the meaning of what they see only with their eyes, consider abstract art, particularly of the non-objective sort, as the strictly proprietary language of artists engaged in iconoclastic nonsense. Those who hold such a dismissive view are probably looking too fast.
This is certainly not to say that we should consider all artists as either the dispensers of mystical experiences or the sole recipients of cryptic messages from on high. It’s not entirely unreasonable, however, to regard artists such as those presented in this marvelously diversified fete of abstractions as somehow akin to shamans, or spirit-catchers. Think of them in a larger sense as curious gatherers of energies and essences. As all visual artists do, the individuals in this exhibit have made symbols, allegories, metaphors. These particular artists, however, have channeled their personal encounters with corporeal realities and personal memories into varying dialects that depart from conventional naturalism to arrive at intriguing if not transcendent distillations.
Back to mindful looking for a moment. Yes, there is a substantial presence of rarefied quirkiness in this exhibit. So slow down. Let your intuition do the deciphering. Here’s where the ordinary and the predictable get wrecked. It’s viewer-friendly glossolalia.