Surface Tension

Mar 16, 2024 5:00PM—Apr 27, 2024

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Surface Tension

Exhibition Dates: 3/16/24 – 4/27/24 

Opening Reception: Saturday, March 16th  5:00-7:00pm 

Exhibition Hours: Thurs. 6 – 8 PM Sat. 10 AM – 4 PM Sun. 11 AM – 4 PM

Artist Talk: Saturday, April 20th 2:00pm

In the exhibit titled “Surface Tension,” artist Kristopher Lionel delves into the interplay between the tactile and the illusory. “Surface Tension” predominately features abstract oil paintings and wall sculptures from two related series called “Surfaces” and “Veiled Surface Iterations” but includes work from outside those series as well. The pieces were made during a period from 2014 to 2023.

Kristopher’s “Surfaces” started as just that, table tops from his studio where years of stains, router cuts, drill holes, shapes, and lines accumulated until compositions began to surface. The tops were then separated from their bases and, using oil paint, charcoal, chalk, pen, pencil, collage, and router, transformed into works of art. For his series, “Veiled Surface Iterations,” Kristopher took rubbings from his “Surface” wall sculptures, lifting impressions (sketches) from the surfaces in which the bas-relief cuts and textures were transferred to paper. In this process of draping paper over a surface, the paper became a veil concealing the surface beneath. Through rubbing, the imagery surfaced to become the first glimpses through the veil and serve as the basis for the finished works.

In titling this exhibition, “Surface Tension,” Kristopher uses the word “surface” as both noun and verb, naming what the pieces are and describing how they came to be. The exhibition explores the visual tension created when physically tangible (“real”) compositional elements, such as bas-relief carving and three-dimensional, recessed shapes, are set in dynamic contrast with those that employ illusionism. Nature inspires much of Kristopher’s artwork, and its influences, including references to seascape and landscape, can be seen throughout the exhibition.

Artist Bio:
Kristopher Lionel attended the art program at Hartwick College in Oneonta, NY, where he received his BFA with a concentration in sculpture (graduating cum laude and being awarded Departmental Distinction in Art). He then enrolled in the postgraduate sculpture program at Washington University in St. Louis, MO, where he received his MFA. In school, Kristopher developed his interest and skills in wood and metalworking. After graduating, he moved to Atlanta, GA, where he worked as a metal fabricator. Applying this experience, Kristopher moved to his home state of Connecticut to launch a business designing and making artistic furniture. He ran his business until 2009 when he decided to close his furniture shop to focus singularly on his life’s purpose—to make art. His portfolio includes paintings, wall art, and sculpture. In April 2022, Kristopher’s painting, ‘Three Little Birds Hang By My Doorstep (The Happy War)’, was selected by juror Lily Wei to be included in the Silvermine Galleries’ centennial celebration exhibit, ‘Future Perfect/Imperfect: The Next Century’. This show resulted in Kristopher being invited to join the Silvermine Guild of Artists.
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Artist Statement:
Throughout my life, Nature has captivated me and influenced my thinking. Drawn to the wonder of hidden creatures and the quiet beauty of trees, I spent countless childhood days exploring the forests near my house, following the deer paths and rock walls like a map with little more than a glance. From those years to now, I’ve carried that wonder and developed a constant sense of the awe-inspiring presence of Nature which drives most of my artistic pursuits.

My art-making process alternates between looking outward, then turning inward. The considerable time I’ve spent thinking about the toll that human activity is taking on the living world of Nature has led me to understand the damage we’ve done and continue to do unabated. The awareness of the danger we’ve put ourselves in and the resulting unease is always present. Rather than give in to fear and a feeling of futility, I use my art-making (painting and sculpting) as an antidote and address these concerns both head-on in a more literal, representational way, as well as abstractly. My focus shifts between several series that include, interactive sculpture, wall sculpture, abstract painting, and surrealistic painting, all conceptually connected by themes directly and indirectly related to or inspired by Nature.

Through an ongoing series of surrealistic, allegorical paintings titled ‘The Happy War’, I wade into the fear and speak to the environmental crises through satire. When I need an outlet from these worries, I turn inward and immerse myself in expressive, abstract works which are the focus of the exhibition “Surface Tension”. Through my wall sculpture and painting, I delve into visual layers and spaces, exploring the emotive qualities of shape, color, and the repetition of line. Working abstractly through pieces like ‘Each Reign Spills Into The Sea (Veiled Surface, Iteration 5)’ and ‘Firmament’, is liberating, transporting me into imagined spaces.

Included among my non-objective, abstract artworks are wall sculptures, paintings, and drawings. I use a variety of traditional and nontraditional materials including canvas, paper, charcoal, chalk, pen, pencil, oil paint, varnish, plywood, wood, steel, and epoxy resin. These pieces are informed by Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism (Surrealism in that I give the unconscious/subconscious mind considerable liberty while working and Abstract Expressionism in so much as the pieces are not rooted in, nor do they mirror, translate, or represent, objective reality). The artworks exist (for the most part) independent of direct visual reference to the physical world. When a direct reference is made, via a representational image fragment or a material that comes loaded with associations, it is done to induce a sense of memory, of fading or forming thought. Several of these works are built around the conventional device of the horizon line to convey the impression of landscape or seascape.

Free from objective subject, I use color, line, shape, material, and composition for aesthetic reasons, like notes of music struck in dynamic, gestural ways as well as quietly and reflectively played. These “notes” occupy visual spaces that are emotive and contemplative—internal, inward-looking spaces.