Watertown-based Room 83 Spring is hosting an exhibit called “Eye Feel,” featuring paintings where the paint has been applied thickly by hand, with a stick or straight from the tube.
Paint and touch are paramount in Room 83 Spring’s current exhibition Eye Feel with Susan Carr, Tatyana Gubash, Katy Helman, Lavaughan Jenkins, and Ellen Wineberg. Each artist’s work has an insistent presence, which is articulated by the generous application of paint in the impasto technique.
Straight from the tube, paint stick, or finger, paint is built up, slathered, and encrusted, often with colors colliding serendipitously on the surface. This deep investment in the physicality of the materials is imperative to expression, asserting object-ness and actuality. The heft of the paint preserves the hand’s mark-makings, becoming a narrative in itself, with the haptic quality underscoring a relational, even conceptual intent of the works. The artist is present, passion is palpable, and the gesture is one of empathy.
In a studiocritical blog interview by Valerie Brennan, painter Susan Carr who shows at Giampietro Gallery in New Haven and Mark Borghi Gallery in NY, un-ironically says, “ I love oil paint and I feel that I am very old fashioned in that regard.” Old fashioned is not how her passionate work looks to us. She begins with one thick mark and builds the painting up from there. “I never know what the piece will be. I have to get out of the way! Because the piece is built in paint, history is involved and memory.
Memory of the last time I was working on the piece and how it felt. I write poetry so
you could say my paintings are poems without words. Poems dripping in color.”
Tatyana Gubash has shown in the United States, Canada and Amsterdam, “Like the hand stencils in prehistoric cave art and movie stars’ handprints in cement, painting with my fingers leaves proof that I was here.” Her texts are diversely sourced. She watches movies while she paints and thinks of the pieces as film stills of a sort. The nature of her paint application ”merges formal elements with the text so that the messages are indecipherable unless the title of the piece is known.” “Premature Reincarnation,””Begging For Help/Begging For More,””Spirit Animal Hoarder,” “Platonic Hate,” and You’re Ruining My Childhood,” are some of her titles.
Katy Helman lives in Deer Isle, Maine.“My practice is rooted in the philosophy that my studio is my science lab, I experiment, I discover, I record, and sometimes I blow things up.” When she was a child, her mother allowed her to wear florals mixed with plaids, paisleys and stripes. She is still mixing stripes and paisleys, and synthesizing genres and styles in her paintings. The visual excitement of excess and a strong sense of animation invigorate and unify her work. Recently, an artist responded to her paintings by saying that her work made him feel as though he were holding back. Katy doesn’t hold back.
Lavaughan Jenkins is a painter, printmaker and sculptor and was the 2016/17 Emerging Artist at Kingston Gallery. He has shown in Boston at Kayafas, Judi Rotenberg, Kingston and Abigail Ogilvy Galleries. Jenkins was a recipient of the Blanche E. Colman Award and the Rob Moore Grant in Painting. Lavaughan is obsessed with the materiality of paint. He applies thick oils with any tools he can find; brushes, palette knives, syringes, and Q-tips. Scraping and adding, scraping and adding, he continuously works and reworks the surface. Figures emerge and at times spill over the edge. He paints from memory, art history, and the emotions of solitude and intimacy. He takes human experiences and squeezes them out and onto the surface and makes them come alive.
Ellen Wineberg was a member of Bromfield Gallery, and has shown at the Danforth and DeCordova Museums. She is Co-Director with Cathleen Daley of ROOM 83 Spring. In a Boston Globe review, Cate McQuaid said of her paintings, “with all those heavy layers, there’s a sense that anything might creep out from in between.” Her process is all intuition, impulse and split second choices. The wheels spin before gaining traction and all the marks are covered in layers of more marks. Finally something appears that looks like a metaphoric route to follow. The paint directs the painting.
Room 83 Spring is open Thursdays and Saturdays 1-4 p.m. and always by appointment. For information go to www.room83spring.com