TEXTURE, an Artsy Exclusive Online Exhibition, examines the use of texture and how it can convey a variety of messages and emotions. Texture, one of the seven elements of art, can be real or implied. Within the exhibition, we will examine how artists try to engage our sense of touch.
Nenad Zaric's (b. 1986, Valjevo, Serbia) large-scale paintings reflect a personal, broody rumination on the Balkan’s tortured past both in regards trauma endured by the people and the physical alteration of the landscape. Zaric became aware of himself politically in the aftermath of the breakup of Yugoslavia, a period of political crisis in the 1980s which caused bitter inter-ethnic Yugoslavic wars which continued into the early 1990s. As a way to process the death and destruction he witnessed at such a young age, Zaric found solace through painting. Within his works, Nenad Zaric depicts a personal philosophy that dredges the confrontational history of his people without sacrificing hope for a brighter future.
Reminiscent of barren or deserted terrain, Serbian artist Nenad Zaric incorporates sand, earth, and found objects to animate his acrylic forms with texture. Scarred grassland textures in the foreground, collocate with the fissures, and gashes carved from the landscape provide visual cues to the wounds from artillery barrages launched a century ago. Colors overlap and swirl, yet are given a sense of motion, continually rolling over one another. ”When I was a child, I witnessed bombs falling and the destruction that followed," Nenad reflects, "Despite this trauma endured, nature would ultimately regenerate itself. Consuming the remains of war.” There are scratches on the canvas as well as incoherent dashes of blank canvas, reminders of the gravity of the painting through the physical force such short and sharp marks would require. They are also indicative of Zaric’s restraint. He is unwilling to let these small marks of anger consume his entire work.
Zaric alludes to the topography of the terrain forever altered by war and continues to explore the boundaries of art and its relation to his subconscious. By adding these natural elements to the paintings, Zaric renders dimensions and depth. Zaric explains, "this new series is devoted to nature, who suffers from our stupidity and which continues to give us life.” His works cover a vast scope of the human consciousness, creating both a memorial to the past and a message of hope for the future.
Swiss-born artist Maja Thommen’s bas-reliefs – a sculptural technique that raises forms and figures above the background plane, combines archaic with contemporary techniques. The delicate fiber resin surfaces of her works vibrate in soft light. Thommen’s latest series “Swim” examines humanity and its relation to the natural world, particularly that of water.
As a set of seven stark white relief panels, Thommen carves the various shapes of water, from the storm to a riverbed without water. Through the viewer’s sensitivity to subtle variations in the reliefs and materials employed, the movements draw us deeper within the sculpture, examining the unique power and mysterious hold that water has on us. Each with a distinctive, apparently abstract pattern, the focus remains on the techniques and different movements of the artist’s hand. The sculptures become self-sufficient, representing nothing but itself.
Lavely Miller-Kershman (b. 1978, Jacksonville, North Carolina) is a contemporary realist painter who works on oversized canvases that depict periods of intense self-exploration. Her latest series of portraits and figures seek to visually narrate the effects of trauma - offering windows into her intimate, personal journey while revealing the reflection of universal experience. In her artistic practice, Miller-Kershman achieves a critical introspection derived from her scholarly training in psychology.
Miller-Kershman's portraits interact viscerally from their canvases, sparked by the raw intensity of their gaze - eyes looking directly forward, initiating a shared sense of vulnerability between both the viewer and the subject. She draws inspiration from faces she observes around her, close members of her family, friends, found images in the media, and film stills. Beneath the densely applied layers of paint and thick gel mediums, all of which the artist applies using her fingers, an exceptional sensibility translates into a dauntless exploration of the psyche.
"I ran out of brushes at some point back when I was in college and didn't have enough money at the time to replace them," Miller-Kershman explains as to why she paints with her fingers. "I've never been described as a particularly well-coordinated person, and I realized fairly quickly that by eliminating the use of any tools made the paint easier for me to control." Recently, however, Miller-Kershman began a re-experimentation with the use of brushes, and she incorporates them occasionally throughout her newest pieces.