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Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Nancy Eisenfeld finds artistic harmony with nature

Paul Mellon Arts Center
333 Christian St., Wallingford, (203) 697-2000
Nancy Eisenfeld: Dynamic Cycles—Freeze to Thaw
Through Dec. 15, 2012.

For years, Nancy Eisenfeld—in her drawings and paintings—has created whirlwinds of color and line evocative of natural forms. These works were mostly abstract, if referential. Several years ago, Eisenfeld began taking a sculptural approach to her compositions, engaging in a kind of found object collage.

In her show Dynamic Cycles at the Paul Mellon Arts Center at Choate Rosemary Hall, Eisenfeld exhibits both types of her work. The show is divided into two sections: a sculptural display in the Gallery and a painting/drawing exhibition on the curved wall of the theater.

It's not unusual for an artist to employ the texture of paper or canvas to aesthetic effect. What is clear in contemplating Eisenfeld's sculptural works, such as "Under Cover" and "Under the Skin," is that the natural found objects (and manufactured, in some cases) are for her another form of canvas or paper with which to realize her visions.

Nancy Eisenfeld: "Under Cover" detail

Eisenfeld lets her surfaces and objects sing. But she finds ways—through juxtaposition, arrangement, judicious and bold applications of paint—to harmonize with them. She valorizes the materiality of concrete, bark or rusted steel much as any other artist would the viscous pigment of oil paint or the tooth of a fine paper.

Blizzard Nemo and its aftermath inspired the drawings and paintings. One of the things that strikes me about them is the dense layering of texture, ink and paint. Eisenfeld sets the tone with the first of these, "It's on the way," utilizing whites, blacks, grays and blues to represent the color palette of a "major winter weather event." It's a tour de force, a swirling maelstrom of pooling pigments and coagulating textures, realizing—in its silence—the howl of the wind, the biting chill and a storm's blinding fury.

There is a narrative to this succession of drawings but each also stands on its own as an evocative abstraction. Individually, they sing. Collectively, they harmonize.

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