Exhibition presents works by artists braving the challenge of working related to the figure

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Exhibition presents works by artists braving the challenge of working related to the figure
Robert Solomon, Garden Myth 3, (after Gauguin), 2020 Acrylic on Canvas, 64 x 38 in.

NEW YORK, NY.- Lichtundfire is pleased to presenting PRESENCE; a selection of figurative works that contrast the reality in which we find ourselves today where everyone needs to be socially distant, non-touching and almost unrecognizable behind a mask – the body has become a presence – with artists pursuing life, identity, and a sense of being while being staunchly visible and comforting. Domestic visions to erotic trace to semi-abstract manifestations abound in the exhibit bearing an undeniable introspective pull.

PRESENCE is an exhibit of artists braving the challenge of working related to the figure, whether from memory, photographs, or actual models, that nurtures our longing for direct social contact and a bygone normalcy we miss. Every artist in the exhibition has dealt with this situation in his/ her own way, with various techniques and in various media. What they all have in common, however, is a reflection on the inspiration of the human figure under all circumstances and at all times.

Separate but together, Martin Weinstein paints an intimate solitary portrait of himself and another of his wife on layered multi-panel acrylic sheets that evoke a sense of connection regardless of the distancing. Bobbie Moline-Kramer takes a monoprint of hers of a figure or partial figure and works over the image creating ephemeral gestures and smudges that delicately reveal the appearance and pleasure of a body. Robert Solomon paints a void of a figure’s stance with arms akimbo and direct eye contact, if there were eyes or other distinguishing features, nevertheless demands our recognition. Anki King’s shrouded phantom figures behind trees in an empty forest stand still in readiness for a charged meeting – either with one’s self or the other. Created during the summer of quarantine, Don Keene’s paintings reference his models through photos and memory to capture a sense of intimacy and physicality while being remote. Edward M. Giordano Jr’s “everybody” mixed media sculptures are an existential zigzag from the personal to the social to the religious and back. Mark Kurdziel's paintings contrast each other conceptually and compositionally; one is an exploration of an existence at the fringe of the world, depicting at the canvas‘ bottom a three-quarter portrait with eyes wide open gazing intently at the viewer; and in another painting, the body fills the world with a vision of vulnerability in a dangling position.

The curators, Robert Curcio and Priska Juschka, stated that the process of organizing the exhibit was in itself a PRESENCE. In that discussions between them on artists and works were done mainly by texts and emails, links to artist’s sites were shared and the specific pieces were selected online rather than in a real live studio visit. The curators wanted to have the exhibit itself capture a sense of the times by not having the works grouped together, not necessarily six feet or more distant, but allowing for circulation throughout the space.

What led Curcio to come up with the title was based upon his own experiences during quarantine, "I take daily walks across Manhattan to get out of my apartment and I see people, but not really see them because they have a mask over most of their face, some have glasses or a face shield so you can barely see their eyes, and maybe even gloves. And there's no hugs or handshake or hand on a shoulder, just keep your distance. We all just became some body walking by each other. But then at times you would recognize someone by their walk, haircut or by some other personal trait. Which showed me that the need to connect and pull of life shows that each of us is present."

Juschka found the exhibit to be both “a great challenge by bringing together different styles from more traditional figurative works to abstraction,” but found the whole experience to be “a real collaboration.” Lichtundfire’s visual program focuses mainly on nonrepresentational, conceptual, and abstract art, however in Juschka’s opinion, “beyond the contemplation on the distinction between figuration and abstraction, PRESENCE, signifies the urgency to address what has been taken from us and the importance to have it return – even if only visually for now.”

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