September 25, 2022

‘Abstract Imaginings’ on View at Maple & Main

'Metalling in Nature' by Ashby Carlisle.

‘Metalling in Nature’ by Ashby Carlisle.

CHESTER — ‘Abstract Imaginings’ is currently on view at Maple & Main’s Stone Gallery in Chester.

Ashby Carlisle of Old Lyme, a sculptor, and Victoria Sivigny of Meriden, an abstract painter, are award-winning artists exhibiting major bodies of work during the month of September in this exhibition titled, ‘Abstract Imaginings,’  and on show through Sept. 30. The works of each artist invite close, careful, deep seeing and reward the viewer’s energy and time.

Sivigny works in acrylic paint on large canvases, often 36″x 36″, in a palette of neutral tones, and her mark-making varies from the extremely subtle to the grand gesture, from something so slight as to seem like a dried teardrop, to circles, grids, or pseudo grids, and other marks of time and wear.  The artist prints, scratches, paints, stamps, embeds, collages, tears, etches, pours, rakes, drips, and throws; with no end to the verbs one might use when imagining how her highly-textured marks are made.

'Point of Departure No. 3' by Victoria Sivigny.

‘Point of Departure No. 3’ by Victoria Sivigny.

There are, in some of Sivigny’s paintings, word-like inscriptions, either decorative script, or Cyrillic and Arabic letters, but the suggestion is that language is just one more graphic element, not a factor of greater signifying power than any other mark.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of encountering a Sivigny work, is alchemical: the whole is more mysterious than the sum of its parts.  One senses an artist who begins in control and ends in abandon, having tossed-up the fundamental elements of art, then stepped back as they fell into place.

Like an oxymoron, each of Sivigny’s paintings embodies an intriguing paradox: one is strangely familiar; another, naturally uncanny; or randomly ordered; or disparately harmonious.

Through the combination of a muted palette, a see-sawing of delicate and bold mark-making, patterns repeated with variations, as well as recurrent or unique gestures, Sivigny’s work is both aesthetically satisfying and intellectually challenging.

Ashby Carlisle is a sculptor whose foundation materials are fiber in the form of hand-dyed and printed paper, pages from books and magazines, metal and clay which she forms into wall sculptures contained in thin wooden boxes. Within these boxes she assembles tattered layers of papers lined with gold suggestive of sky, clouds, horizon and land.

Where the horizon separates sky from ground, Carlisle has secured a clay plate through which twisty vines penetrate the lower and upper divisions: earth and sky.  She uses the organic to suggest the supra-natural, and the natural to create objects that might be organic, but are not.

At times in her work, Carlisle inscribes the marks of culture, specifically writing and other forms of symbolizing.  Sometimes the lettering is superimposed on other lettering as if to say that not only are land and sky entirely a cultural construct, but they are a jumble, a cacophony of inscriptions over-written by “signs.’  In several of Carlisle’s works, a representation of the natural world is completely written-over, seeing itself entirely codified.

Carlisle and Sivigny are both members of GalleryOne, a cooperative of mid-career artists who exhibit along the Connecticut shoreline, and each has exhibited work in numerous local, regional and national exhibitions.  Among other opportunities, both artists have exhibited work at the John Slade Ely House Center for Contemporary Art in New Haven, Spectrum Gallery in Centerbrook, Guilford Art Center, Golden Thread Gallery in West Hartford, and the Valentine H. Zahn Community Gallery in Westbrook.

Carlisle’s work has been on view in The Cooley, Sill House, and Studio 80 Sculpture Galleries in Old Lyme.  Sivigny has also exhibited her work at The Slater Memorial Museum in Norwich, the New Britain Museum of American Art, and West Hartford’s Art League Saltbox and Clubhouse Galleries.

Sivigny holds elected memberships with the New Haven Paint and Clay Club, West Hartford Art League, and Connecticut Women Artists.  She was awarded second prize for “Temple of the Soul” at the New Britain Museum of Art Annual Members’ Exhibition.

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