Artists Without Borders
Brill Gallery, Eclipse Mill, North Adams, February 1, 2009 – May 31, 2009:
Anita Rydygier from Canada, Rieko Fujinami from Japan, Joanna Gabler from Poland and the U.S. (Click here for a photo gallery of the opening reception.)
The Brill Gallery is situated on the ground floor at the north end entry of the Eclipse Mill, and the mill is the first major building as one approaches the city from the east. The recently renovated, enormous, four storey red brick, former textile mill is now full of art galleries, studios and live/work studio residences. Within the Brill Gallery, with its large north facing small pane industrial windows, the artworks were displayed studio style with paintings and photographs either framed or pinned, some hung, some leaning on walls from the floor, and all numbered, titled, catalogued, and priced. Natural and track lighting showed the works well and all the artworks themselves were of great quality and variety.
Rieko Fujinami is a Japanese artist currently living and showing in NYC and at the Brill Gallery. Her artwork is well known in Japan and at this exhibition she was showing “Film Drawings” and “Fresco Seccos” with figurative subjects and one portrait. The film drawings are made by drawing on both sides of Mylar film which creates a semi-transparent, shadowlike effect. The fresco seccos are very soft images of partial torsos drawn on textured fresco plaster resulting in a look resembling shadows on ancient walls. When describing her intent and inspiration, Rieko also mentioned memory and in fact the infamous “memory print” of a person created on a wall at Hiroshima by the WW2 nuclear blast. [The artist added that she wished to capture a particular characterstic of the Japanese mode of seeing. She said that if a Japanese person sees another person in the street, the face will suddenly loom large in the field of vision and then rapidly fade away. The spectre-like quality of her images captures this fugitive process of seeing and knowing.—ed.] This work is fresh in technique and method and yet feels somehow like it all has an inherent history and story. For collectors or simply aficionados of figurative art including the male torso seen by a woman, these works present a unique approach with works at the Brill ranging from medium to larger formats.
Joanna Gabler is a Polish philosophy graduate and artist who now lives in the Berkshires, painting and making digital nature images. On first inspection, these works seemed inspired by kaleidoscopes, as if one is seeing nature through a large multifaceted lens. However the next morning after the opening, I had the honour of being invited to Joanna’s studio along with Anita Rydygier who had become a new friend of the artist, and soon realized from Joanna’‘s extensive mineral and crystal collection that these images are much more complicated in their inspiration. Imagine amethyst crystal lattice, light refraction within opals and Kirlian energy images as graphic inspiration. The artist explained that nature itself showed her how best to represent its inherent inner force. Evoking auras and gem-like crystals these images, which vary from small and precious to large and powerful, involve nature studies which move well past simple depictions of trees and branches to the spirit of the life force within the trees themselves. For those who seek the deeper aspects of nature, Joanna’s work will be a great pleasure in many ways.
Anita Rydygier, How Things Work, 19 1/2″ x 12 1/2″ Unframed Original Gouache and Ink Drawing 1/1; / 19 1/2″ x 12 1/2″ Unframed 2nd Generation Original Gouache and Ink Drawing 1/1
Anita Rydygier, who is in fact my partner, was educated in London at the Royal College of Art. I shall permit myself to say that she has obvious graphic skill and talent. In describing the process which resulted in the recent work first displayed to the public at Artists without Borders, Anita described spending the last two years “unlearning,” in a serious effort to reconnect with a recollected inner vision of forms and colours from her youth. She quoted Picasso in her presentation saying that he felt all children are natural artists and that society “teaches” us so much that the natural artist we all have within us is eventually lost. Her work shown at the Brill Gallery in Artists without Borders: achieves Anita’s intent to blend a child-like innocence of form with a trained mastery of technique. This is displayed with refined air-brushed gouache and ink line drawings of semi abstract subjects with titles like “How Things Work.” Like both Rieko Fujinami and Joanna Gabler, Anita Rydygier is a thoroughly original artist working today in a totally unique and fresh manner. For original graphics fans, Anita shows us a whole new way to look at things after we “unlearn” how to see the world around us. Imagine if as an adult we actually could draw with the conviction of a child, what deep inner part of our mind would we be using? This seems to be what Anita has tapped—with brilliant results.
All three of these women artists selected by Ralph Brill to illustrate the diversity of vision alive in art today, show us their obvious experience and mastery of a variety of techniques, producing fresh and varied results. Ralph Brill possesses a remarkable breadth of scope and vision, resulting in his broad curatorial efforts. Visitors to this gallery and specifically to “Artists without Borders,” which will remain on view through May will be delighted. This is most definitely a show worth visiting the Berkshires for, and while you’re there, be sure to take in the pleasures to be enjoyed all around you.
JC Scott, currently serves on the Board of Tourism Victoria, as the Arts, Culture and Society representative, co-chairs the City of Victoria Public Art Committee, and is an Art Advisor to The Victoria Airport Authority. He designs sustainable resorts and places art in all his projects. (Click here for JC Scott’s account of his visit to the Berkshires)