Rania Schoretsaniti is a Greek artist who draws on a rich cultural and artisanal heritage of craftsmanship, spirituality and family values. From a young age, she was taught the importance of self-sustainability, and her grandmother offered her valuable instruction on how to make things by hand. The core lesson being that in times of hardship you can draw on your strength and ‘use your hands and your head’ to make something of value and integrity in your life.
As a child, Rania grew up playing in the workshop of her family’s furniture-making business, where she observed the mechanics of sofas being built from raw cuts of wood knocked together into frames before being clad by beautiful upholstered fabrics.
Nostalgia for the purity of this time is deeply imbued in processes behind her works, which range from energetic, abstract oil on canvases, such as “Big Smile” or “Pink Sky”, to her finely rendered lines in ink and oil on canvas (like “Jacob’s Ladder” and “Synanteseis”).
But it is in her reliefs that the physicality of “using her hands” really comes into fruition. Every part of the soaring forms behind her works such as “Silk 1”, “Sea” or her “Trikke” series are constructed by hand, starting with the wooden frames, which are covered in bright fabrics, many of which she hand-dyed using traditional techniques.
Rania describes her works as her “words” which she uses to interpret and express a conscious and subconscious experience of the world, and which form a bridge to the divide between the known and the unknown (Heaven and Earth). Her symbolic use of lines and ladders are conversations that express the choice we have as humans to take steps “and build” so that we evolve from a position of suffering to one of empowerment or enlightenment.
Oksana Bergen is a visual artist living and working in Germany. She was born and raised in the town of Kedrovy Shor, in Russia. At the age of 15, Oksana and her family moved to Paderborn, Germany, where she now lives with her husband and their two sons.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Oksana where I was captivated by watching live demonstrations of her agile and graceful hands snipping paper, while the fine paper “hair” floated gently onto the table. Oksana skillfully cuts and shapes design elements unifying them to achieve works of art.
Ecologically minded, Oksana uses colored advertisement paper, choosing it for its malleability and stability for building her relief work. She collects unsolicited promotional print material most people would toss in the recycling bin. Instead of discarding it, she expertly manipulates this glossy, colored print material rendering it depth and elevating it to an aesthetic relief artwork. Oksana is like an alchemist of paper, transforming junk mail and imparting it with an aesthetic form, fundamentally turning “trash to treasure.”
Tashi Brauen is a Swiss-Tibetan photographer, painter, and sculptor based in Zurich, Switzerland. His work combines the fragility of paper, spontaneous folding and manipulating surfaces with bold color and texture to reveal the artist's affection for geometric forms, shifting perspectives on dimension and exploring the interplay of scale, impact and details.
Meeting Tashi for the first time at his exhibition in Bern at the Museum of Fine Arts, our easy conversation led the way to a recent visit at his studio in central Zurich. There, we discussed his upcoming exhibition in Berlin at Ronewa Art Projects, his work and process as well as sharing a personal glimpse of his life as an artist.
German artist Veit Schmidleitner's paintings from his "Coupure" Series of abstractions fuse a sense of the industrial with inherent elegance that create new surfaces that defy tradition. These sometimes dramatically contrasting notions are brought together in compositions that evoke both a new visual topography and a sense of grace that nod to industrial roots, but that in some ways deflect traditional artistic methods.
The works range in scale from moderate to those that anchor an entire gallery wall, and as the spacious galleries include natural light at certain times of the day, many nuances and visual textures are revealed to the delight of the viewer.
At first glance, compositions appear to feature a traditional paint application of washes that harbor the subtlety of watercolor work, but there is more. A variety of color tones and greys that shift and evolve of their own accord take over the compositions. In some areas, there are bursts of intense color that grab the eye and interrupt initial readings. Simultaneously, curiosity is piqued as these works have what appear to be a mix of traditional and industrial pigments, and high-gloss varnish that gives the work an extreme polish or sheen that is intriguing. The treatment of surface is reflective and as the viewer approaches the work they may see their reflection and elements in their space. This is not a classic painting approach, it is something very new indeed.
Schmidleitner creates with cut panels that are often times irregular, but that are joined to make finished stable rectangular or near-square compositions. Orientations may be primarily vertical or horizontal depending on the piece.
I had the opportunity recently to speak with Schmidleitner by Skype and also in person in Berlin, before the vernissage.