Painting and Clay: Abstracted Language
During Covid we all felt (and may continue to feel) changes in the passing of time and communication with others. The brand new artworks here created specifically for this exhibition by artists John Ratajkowski, Sylvia Tello Trumbull, and Richard Trumbull all in their unique ways deal with time, its conflation and expansion, history, memory, ways of communication—hence the phrase “abstracted language”—the endeavor to retrieve the past, to remember, and to communicate now, in the “abstracted” forms of art.
Painter John Ratajkowski set up a language, a dialogue with self during Covid, by returning to survey his past work, revisiting his personal art history, delving into previous paintings to seek a fragment from “before” with which to connect the future paintings which constitute this exhibition. Extracting a fragment from an “historical” painting, Ratajkowski then built entirely new paintings, integrating a piece of a remembered past to create fresh future work, but with a gesture to the past. This lush, brilliantly-colored new work continues the dialogue John began with himself to speak to the current viewer.
Clay artist Sylvia Tello Trumbull’s stunning compositions speak of time’s passage, of totems which mark history, telling stories from the past by creating a language which speaks to the past and to the future—and ultimately to the viewer. Sylvia’s powerful clay totems, recalling the totem poles throughout ancient and current cultures, are emblems of personal changes in her during Covid. Intricately carved, using all manner of objects to embed in the clay, Sylvia’s pieces are three-dimensional diaries, replete with markers of her own history, and of History with a capital “H”. The beautiful vessels Sylvia has fashioned carry forth this history and speak to us in a special “abstracted” but very real language.
Painter Richard Trumbull presents in this current exhibition at BFree Studio his abstracted landscapes drawn entirely from his experiences of the beach and surround at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. Trumbull says, “During the early Covid months the beach at Torrey Pines became a daily, comforting presence with its grayed out greens and sand and water, its changing sounds and its changing weathers. When I began this series of paintings I found myself returning again and again to the personal significance of having been there during that particular time. I couldn’t shake the influence and so I gave into it: thus the paintings you see in this exhibition. My hope is that these paintings make available to the viewer the result of my immersion into that surround. These are paintings about feeling—the feeling of that astonishing place.”
Taken together, the work of these three enormously talented artists, communicate in their own language, and preserve memory even amidst times that may vie against that.
Kathleen Balgley, PhD