Tamara Gonda, Back Where I Belong, 36 x 48 in., Watercolor
By Christina Beecher
In stunning display of color and complex compositions with a lyrical flair, Tamara Gonda’s large watercolors afford us a unique look at the natural world of bark, leaves and limbs. American Tune, Tamara Gonda’s second and largest solo exhibit to date, is on display at Galatea Fine Art in Boston’s SoWa District from October 2 through October 27, 2019. It is her mastery of technique and media that allows Tamara to explore at such depth the visual intricacies of organic life.
One would need more than a quick look at Gonda’s paintings to guess their true origins. In her own words: “The new work embodies my feeling for the dormancy of hope. Every week I listen to and read the news. A numbness overcomes me. A dormancy, a hibernation. I’m looking for an escape.” As Tamara prepared for this show, she described “an overwhelming feeling of idleness and despair,” but clearly the work took on a life of its own. This dichotomy of thought and concept is juxtaposed with the vibrancy of colors and movement in her work and is precisely what brings real power to these paintings.
Not just a visual escape, Tamara’s work has much to offer to both herself and the viewer. “I create woodland worlds from the dormancy of the forest with its lines mixed with the unpredictability of the watercolor,” Gonda explains. In Back Where I Belong (36 x 48 in., watercolor and marker), the birch trees appear to grow off of the bottom of the page, unanchored to any visible ground. The trees make a strong statement — white slashes against a warm color scheme rich with golds, orange and ochers. In comparison, the white of the bark is layered with cool, subtle washes of blues and lilac accented with black marks and flowing lines that organically grow towards the top of the work, expressing hope and optimism.
Tamara Gonda, Sara, 40 x 60 in., Watercolor and Acrylic
Her diptych, Sara (30 x 60 in., watercolor and acrylic), has a slightly different perspective from much of her other works. It is almost as if this artist lay upon the forest floor gazing up to the skies, to create this unique composition. Contrasting colors make this piece sing with positive and negative shapes gently held together by the white limbs of the trees. The branches sweep across the paintings, outstretching like welcoming arms to the viewer. Gonda further explains how this body of work came about: “The dormancy of the woodlands sets the mood, the color I invoke brings the whispers of a reawakening.” Clearly Gonda’s work is both alive and very much awake!
Tamara’s technique involves layering many translucent watercolor washes over a resist medium. This resist is not always perfect, as the overlaying paint can often seep into the white areas of the trees. Though she does not have the control she might think she wants, this artist clearly knows when to give in to chance. “I have no control on where the paint seeps in and what resulting color will be allowed to form,” Gonda explains. “I love this part; I like giving way to the chaos.” Subsequently, the resist medium is removed, and the painting continues to be built up. Tamara often turns to acrylic paint, marker or graphite when she feels the need for a bolder statement.
Tamara Gonda, Song Walking, 40 x 60 in., diptych, mixed media
In Song Walking (40 x 60 in., mixed media: watercolor, acrylic, marker and graphite), she uses a simpler color scheme, choosing only cool blues to back up the white forest. Here the trees are a mass of white branches, black accents and lines woven together like a tapestry. Tamara gains a subtle depth in this work with accents of soft greys and intricate shadows.
Gonda also expressed a great affinity with singer/songwriters. She cites David Byrne, Linda Ronstadt as well as Paul Simon, and their ability to morph their music, always growing into something new. American Tune actually gets its name from a Paul Simon song. Gonda considers herself at heart an Abstract Color Field painter. Like the musicians she so admires, it is clear this artist is also morphing—sometimes by predilection but also perhaps from a burning need to resist the numbness. In either case, the resulting work is a stunning grouping of powerful images, all expressing an inner hope this artist clearly will not resist.