Luminous I, oil and encaustic on board
Luminous II, oil and encaustic on board
From the geometrical preoccupations of Cezanne or the minimalist ‘codes’ of Mondrian and De Stijl, Modernism in the visual arts has, since its inception, sought to delve below the contingent appearances of the natural world to discover a universal language of forms. This determination may serve as the starting point in an appreciation of the work of Sharon Gordon. Although each of her works is powerfully evocative in its own right, she is essentially a serial painter. Aqueous, Northwest Passage, Transitions, Boxcars, Terrain, Distant Land, etc. denote multiples in which the artist explores, almost as in a visual laboratory, the relationships of color and form or of color and value as they provoke different emotional responses or suggest different referents to the natural world. In most of her works, the painting is composed of one or two bands comprising tonal gradations of a single hue, together with a single band of greater modulation, which we might term the ‘band of differentiation.’ As these bands vary not only in color and value but also in placement in the composition, the paintings not only evoke different moods but suggest altogether different pictorial content.
We might use several images in the Terrain series as exemplary. Terrain VII places the ‘band of differentiation’ at the bottom of the painting, with a lighter band immediately above and then a darker band of the same hue at the top. In this painting we seem to stand at the edge a sea at night pondering its timeless and mysterious infinitude. In Terrain VI, however, the horizontal ‘band of differentiation’ appears just above the middle of the painting, with a darker band below and a lighter band above, again all of the same hue. Here we naturally want to see the ‘band’ as a strip of land possibly at the edge of a body of water which, in turn, reflects the sky. The ‘terrain’ in question now seems to have shifted from beneath the viewer’s feet to become the object of a distant gaze. In Terrain V, the ‘band of differentiation’ disappears altogether except of a mere hint of red coloration at the very bottom of the painting. Our imaginative focus is now upon the transience of the scene, the reddish tint suggesting the last lingering light of a sunset before the colors fade to black. The point to be made is that in none of the paintings is the interpretation explicit; they are, in fact, not landscapes at all, but variations upon an abstract theme. It is the viewer’s associations which impose a natural form upon the image.
And herein lies the particular power of Gordon’s art. Each of her paintings balances delicately on the fine line between abstraction and representation. It forms a kind of tone poem to which each of us brings his or her own unique set of associations. What is a threatening sky to one viewer becomes a turbulent sea to another; what strikes one as serene instills anxiety in another. The power of Sharon Gordon’s painting is that it draws each viewer into an imaginative enactment - into a personal and unique interpretative engagement.
Sharon Gordon was born and raised in Upstate New York. She attended the Junior College of Albany, Division of Russell Sage College, and Skidmore College, where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Fine Art. Sharon has enjoyed continuing success as a painter, having had successful group and solo shows, as well as ongoing representation at major galleries throughout the East. Most recently, she was invited to participate in the Everson Museum of Art 2008 Biennial Exhibition. She maintains a painting studio in Syracuse, New York.
My current work is intended to capture and transport the viewer into a segment of a larger landscape that may be seemingly ambiguous, yet familiar. The paintings provide an opportunity to wander through passages exploring one’s whereabouts, recalling moments of time and space that may have been visited before.
I believe that the ability to look beyond the surface and examine components of a larger view is a key factor in my paintings as well as a vital part of understanding our place in a larger landscape. Experiencing a vista, particularly involving bodies of water, enhances the idea that an atmosphere can be an ever-changing, never-ending range of rhythm and volatility while remaining consistently whole. The view imposes a presence, a meter, balancing human scale and condition as a piece of a larger perspective.
The smaller scale of many of the works allows the viewer an intimate and introspective setting to experience each piece, encouraging one’s own relationship with the space and the work before them. I want each individual to become as captivated by the paint as I am with the painting process.
Distant Land I