Barbara Eskin, Opening Reception, September 6, 2019, Galatea Fine Art
Systems Colliding: All in Pieces
Written By: Frank Capezzera
In a subtle but stunning language of abstraction all her own, Barbara Eskin has fashioned Systems Colliding: All in Pieces, her solo show at Galatea Fine Art in Boston’s SoWa District, running from September 4 through 29, 2019. The ten paintings in mixed media are from her most recent body of work, inspired by the patterns and the symbolism of nets. The artist offers her abstract take on the societal systems of support and restraint, the effects of disruptions and fractures–and how they can lead to new beginnings. The show features paintings from the latest two ‘chapters’ of a body of work that began with Net Works:FRAGMENTED 2018 and In Pieces, 2019. Each work contains elements of imagery based on fishing nets, like the one the artist found long ago at a beach on Cape Cod.
Barbara Eskin, Fragmented #3 photo by Mark Teiwes
Seeing these works from close up is a gift to lovers of expressive painting. The first glance, from a distance, draws the eye to the dramatic shapes and contrasts of color and form, in compositions that communicate movement and change and much more. The agents of these experiences are note-worthy. In the FRAGMENTED series, ink black imprints of netting on paper create images of a seemingly unbridled existence, only to end up torn and split.
Hanging among the FRAGMENTED works, cheek to jowl, are the pieces from the series appropriately called In Pieces. At this point, the net and field imagery has yielded to torn, cut or remodeled elements of net and sacrificial pieces cut from other works painted in oil – Barbara’s “messengers from the past”, which she chose in order to express chaos. In In Pieces (6), against the encompassing fields of color underlying all, she gives us a stunning burnishing in this image with yellows and white of clotted ink impressions of netting. As we step back, we discover a few vital and beautiful drops of cadmium red that add another meaning. This artful addition somehow settles us down. The painted fragments among this series are sometimes vivid and pure and at others subtle, and always modeled with a painterly hand.
Barbara Eskin, In Pieces #6 photo by Mark Teiwes
Stepping among the FRAGMENTED paintings we experience the collapse or disruption of societal systems and structures. The In Pieces series examines what happens to these elements if the fragmentation is carried even further and “entire systems collide”.
Close in, Eskin’s mark making and tinting of colors lessens the tensions in soothing defiance of the ominous subjects that seem to haunt the artist’s psyche. Eskin depicts and then wrestles with chaos, and through the questions she raises as a visual artist a viewer might conclude that in her heart she knows this search is necessary in order to achieve balance at all. Her compositions evidence a lifelong training, experience and desire to create a harmonious whole.
Barbara Eskin, Fragmented #4 photo by Mark Teiwes
Her netting imprints are rich with dynamic, quasi-organic shapes, puddled inkblots and variations of blackness, unique in each print. Eskin’s website (www.barbaraeskin.com) contains a spare, elegantly written and poetic history of the fishing net.
She writes, in part:
“Nets, these age-old objects freighted with symbolic meaning, have been holding my attention for a while. Nets restrain, they rein in and capture, provoking resistance. But they may also have entirely different functions, connecting parts to create a whole, providing support and structure, or simply creating a beautiful effect.”
Be sure to experience Barbara Eskin’s calling out of the components and implications of conflict and disharmony and her triumphs over them in her unique yet universally understandable language of painting.
Barbara Eskin, Systems Colliding: All in Pieces- New Work by Barbara Eskin. September 4-29, 2019. At Galatea Fine Art, 560B Harrison Avenue, #B-6, Boston, MA 02118; (617) 542-1500; Gallery Hours: Wednesday-Sunday 12-5 pm and by appointment.
Please join us for an Artist Talk on September 21 – 3pm, at Galatea Fine Art with artist members Barbara Eskin, Jane Paradise and Crystal Woodward.