Abstract painter Helen Shulman’s immediacy with the natural environment is reflected in her resonant oil and mixed media paintings, where often the notion of landscape is conjured. Her process begins with an under-painting, gradually built upon with complex layers of color purposefully scraped and sanded at various stages to create depth and contrast. Compositionally, Shulman’s paintings suggest influences by the Hudson River School painters and Richard Diebenkorn’s distinct geometric style. For many years she and her husband have split their time between Vermont and Naples.
“The vast, ever-changing, glorious Florida skies juxtaposed with the intimate, deep woods and green mountains of Vermont move me profoundly,” says Shulman. “When I’m painting, I’m moving past streams, studying rocks, stopping to listen to mocking birds or gazing at full puffy clouds. I experience a satisfying solitude when I’m making my pictures. My hope is viewers will feel invited to pause, take a deep breath, let their shoulders drop and enter places where their imaginations flourish.” For more information, visit www.helenshulman.com.
Originally from Banjaluka in Bosnia, Amer Kobaslija fled his war-ravaged homeland in 1993, and arrived in refugee camps in Nuremberg, Germany. Later, he traveled to Düsseldorf, where he attended the Kunst Akademie. In 1997, Kobaslija was offered asylum by the United States. He immigrated to Florida and completed his Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Painting and Printmaking at Ringling College. In 2003, he went on to pursue a Master of Fine Arts degree in painting at Montclair State University in New Jersey. In 2005, Kobaslija was awarded a grant from the Joan Mitchell Foundation; the following year, he received a grant from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation. In 2013, Kobaslija was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship. Kobaslija’s works have been reviewed and printed in publications such as The New York Times, Art in America, ARTNews, Art & Antiques, New York Magazine, The Village Voice, New York Time Out, The New York Sun, The Florida Times Union, The San Francisco Chronicle, among others. Currently, Kobaslija teaches painting at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania and divides his time between New York City, Gettysburg, Florida and Switzerland.
Kobaslija’s obsessively realistic, richly detailed paintings often depict his own studio: a windowless, white room crammed with art paraphernalia. Most of the works in this exhibit come from a new series the artist is working on called “Florida Diaries.” He says that he’s attempting to “convey the sense of natural wonder—and what it feels like to be there: the phenomenon of being in that place. Considering that these oasis-like environments are silently vanishing—there is this other evolving narrative of loss and the troubled relation between our species and nature. By not directly painting the effects of the pollution and climate change, the idea is to imply it through the absence of it.” According to Kobaslija, climate change aside, Florida is haunted by its history.
“Centuries ago, the Europeans came and conquered and did much harm in the process,” he says. “We are also aware of recent events, including the murder of Treyvon Martin, as an episode symptomatic of greater obstacles haunting the state of Florida and the rest of the nation. There is much that is brewing beneath these otherwise calm Florida waters. Paintings are portals. They are also mirrors, revealing as much about the see-er as the seen.”
After receiving her certificate of fine art at California Institute of the Arts in the late 1980s, Claudia Ryan says she went into hermetic seclusion, working in nursing to support herself. She drew and painted obsessively, fueled by “loneliness, rage, and my experiences dealing with patients.” In 2000, she returned to school and received an MFA at the University of South Florida. Ryan's work mimics, or occasionally is, the act of writing, a kind of frenetic mark-making. With pastels or other markers, she builds massive surfaces over time—erasing, scratching, remarking. These traces of action, invoking or sometimes describing nightmarish, psychologically intense subject matter, give the impression of expunging private demons while passionately celebrating life.
“My painting process is similar to my drawing practice,” says Ryan. “I build up surfaces and images by repeatedly working over and over them so that the first painting I make is often totally eliminated, or morphs into something else. In this way, I hope the paintings become like road maps of psychological states. I want to create an alternate universe of feeling that is ultimately freeing.” For more info, visit www.claudiaryan.com
Allyn Gallup Contemporary Art was established in 1991. Since then, the gallery has earned the reputation as the leading place in southwest Florida to view contemporary art. The gallery’s collection includes paintings, sculptures, mixed-media assemblages, works on paper and prints by mid-career artists with well-established exhibition records. The gallery also occasionally showcases works by promising emerging artists.