Nonrepresentational art captured the imagination of artists since late 19th century. But in the major part of 20th century it literally devoured the hearts and minds of painters, sculptors and even architects. From fauvism to futurism, cubism to Dadaism the language of artistic abstraction evolved at a rapid pace. A world ravaged by war and economic depressions needed a radically different thought process for re–establishing order, mending broken lives and alleviating pain as best as possible. The romanticism associated with baroque, rococo or neo–classicism seemed like a distant memory and was hardly relevant in the backdrop of death and destruction. Italian poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, one of the founding members of Futurism, summed up the despondency perfectly when he said, ‘There is no longer beauty except in the struggle. No more masterpieces without an aggressive character. Poetry must be a violent assault against the unknown forces in order to overcome them and prostrate them before men.’
In this artistic milieu Piet Mondrian and Theo van Doesburg introduced neo–plasticism to the world. They stripped their canvas of everything except pure lines and shapes depicted in solid blocks of black, red, yellow, blue and white. A new dialect of art was born that is faithful only to the purity of geometric forms. It became hugely popular among artists across Europe and North America.
Rosemarie Bloch was born in 1940, Cincinnati, Ohio. She was too young at the time to understand the impact of abstract geometric painting and why Broadway Boogie–Woogie completed by Piet Mondrian in 1943 is still one of most treasured items in the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Graphic designers found the theme inherently stimulating. So it does not come as a surprise when Rosemarie Bloch find her artistic expressions in grids and become motivated to explore and paint a city’s vista on canvas in the language of abstraction.
Michelle Dunaway was born in Alaska where she spent many of her nights watching the fascinating colours of the night sky created by the northern lights. She moved to New Mexico in her teens and was greeted by the enchanting beauty of the land. But the enigma that captivated her most since her childhood was the expressions, often ephemeral in nature, on the faces of human being. As her fondness for painting grew with time, she actively engaged her brushes in tracing the obscure language of human sentiments being expressed through the whole body. In the process she took training in the prestigious Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California; earned awards and recognition including an Award of Exceptional Merit from Portrait Society of America’s International Portrait Competition, 2010; involved herself in teaching at California Art Institute, Westlake Village and at Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art; and established herself as a premier visual chronicler of life. Her portraits and figurative paintings, ‘Remembering Home’, ‘Strength and Grace’ or ‘Poetry’ aptly depict what has long been suspected, that, ‘Beauty is truth’s smile when she beholds her own face in a perfect mirror.’
A glance over Kris Kuksi’s mixed-media assemblage and sculptures reveals his faithfulness towards classical form without ignoring the plight of modern time. For example, his sculptural piece, Unveiled Obscurity to be exhibited in Joshua Liner Gallery, NY, is inspired heavily by the master sculptors, like, Giovanni Strazza and Raffaelle Monti, of a bygone era. But, beneath the surface of the artistic intricacy and a perceived serenity lies the seething rage and mournful sighs of contemporary world. Kris Kuksi collects wood, metal and other materials from all over the world to create his ornate pieces. Much like the raw materials themselves the subjects of his artwork also resonate deep into the hearts of a global audience.
Kris Kuksi was born on 2nd March, 1973 in Missouri. He received a Master of Fine Arts degree in Studio Painting from Fort Hays State University, 2002. His work is exhibited in a number of galleries including Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery and is collected by the likes of Guillermo del Toro and Robin Williams.
Back in 1957, a fourteen year old girl was seen deeply contemplating the work of a 20th century master, Pablo Picasso, in a museum named after him in Paris, France. It was there, for the first time in her life she learned the magnitude of the revolutionary artist’s work – realism tinged with symbolism, cubism, classicism, surrealism and so on. The visual extravaganza impressed her mind immensely and stayed there. The artist in Marcella Hayes Muhammad was stirred to its very core.
With her father being an air – force officer Marcella found herself stationed in many places including Japan, France, Germany and various parts of United States. The experience gathered and all that she has seen through this extensive excursion became a part of her own self. The encouragements of her mother Ruth Hayes, herself an art enthusiast and student of Art Institute of Chicago, and the inspiring stories of her father Harold Hayes that filled her ears as a child made her acutely aware of her own identity from an early age. She was inspired by cubism but had it redefined by dipping the brush in her own cultural heritage and her soulful energy which is self – evident in Plastic Space, a visual journal she is maintaining since 1964. In 1995 after seeing through a successful career in elementary education Marcella set up Maruva Studio in Georgia. Five years later her sister, Dianne Hayes Quarles, joined her and together they established Maruva DQ, Inc.
Marcella’s work is in the permanent collection of National Center for the Study of Civil Rights and African American Culture Gallery, University of Montgomery, Alabama; The Academy of Arts, Inc. Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, Alabama; APEX Museum, Atlanta, Georgia to name a few. But perhaps her greatest achievement to this date has come early in her life when she learnt, ‘inspiration exists, but it has to find you working’. It is owing to this lesson that we find her today, relentlessly busy perfecting her craft even after all the successes she managed to achieve to this date.
In 2009, Iris Scott earned her degree in Bachelor of Fine Arts from Washington State University. But more importantly she took a decision that affected her entire life. She set her sail about and reached Taiwan to dedicate an entire year in honing her skills at painting at a relatively lower cost of living. But the universe had an even bigger surprise in store for her. All of a sudden one day, when, she was busy correcting a little blob of paint with her fingers on canvas an idea struck her—what if the entire scene is set up on canvas through painting with fingers? This fanciful thought did not take much time to be translated into action and there born the first of the ‘impressionist finger paintings’ series. With practice, the soft touches on canvas started producing that magical quality in paintings that did not escape notice of the admirers. And, soon Iris started criss-crossing the globe collecting fragments of images that not only touched her heart but were also translated by her waltzing fingers on canvas to capture the audiences’ imaginations.