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The Metrowest Daily News
November 18, 2012
Exhibit: Fragile Navigation
At the Danforth: Artist Ilana Manolson mapping out her work
By Chris Bergeron/DAILY NEWS STAFF
Herman Melville, who chased real and imaginary whales, once said, "True places are never'' found on any map.
That might help explain Ilana Manolson's fragmented chart composed of scraps of old maps and plaster, clumps of earth and ivy roots that covers two gallery walls in the Danforth Museum and School of Art.
"As we move from place to place in our fast-paced existence,'' the Concord artist said, "we bring the places we have known with us, and, thus the places are connected.''
Her visceral "Fragile Navigation'' is on display as the largest part of an ongoing exhibition by herself and three other artists, Thaddeus Beal, Adrienne Der Marderosian and Rhonda Smith, who are variously exploring the psychic and mythic meaning of maps.
Originally scheduled to close early this month, the exhibition has been extended to Dec. 4, due to popular interest, said Executive Director Katherine French.
"It's an eye catching show and, we felt, an important show that incorporates maps, map-making and the interest in place,'' she said.
French explained the title of Manolson's installation and the exhibit were inspired by Katherine Harmon's book, "The Map As Art, Fragile Navigation'' that examines how different artists use visual references to maps to consider how people process "information and illusion.''
In their varied work, the four area artists of "Fragile Navigation'' use actual maps as springboards to pursue their personal interests.
Like Melville, the author of "Moby Dick,'' they seem intent on following actual maps into the uncharted depths of imagination.
They're on journeys worth taking.
In striking oil paintings like "Dido Moves Carthage to Another Ocean,'' Smith creates a colorful map of an imagined world in which "disruption elicits the creative response.''
While Beal didn't set out to draw maps, his charcoal on paper works such as "Carbon Hypostases 56,'' share the worn and weathered look of aging charts of a long ago sea voyage.
In several mixed media pieces from her series "Tattoo Trails,'' Der Marderosian juxtaposes human figures on maps as if tracking them through their uncertain migrations.
Previously known for her luminous paintings of lush organic life, Manolson has made a large, multi-part installation that looks like it might have been constructed in an ancient cartographer's root cellar rather than in the former botanist's Concord studio.
Covering parts of two walls, it initially resembles an archipelago, a chain of fragmented islands and bits of land. Taking another look, it might be a Google Earth's eye view of the evolving globe as tectonic plates shift beneath the surface.
Looking closely, visitors will see Manolson incorporated into it scraps of actual historic maps she printed from the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library where she recently displayed some work as part of a show "Rethink: Ink.''
For that show, she exhibited a work titled "Terra Flow'' which covered part of a library wall with a seeming chain of islands that combined actual maps, plaster and roots and earth from her garden.
After French saw that work and invited her to exhibit in the Danforth, Manolson created the site specific piece that now covers two walls.
At the Danforth, Manolson has added figures called a compass rose, which are lines and nautical markings stretching across the gallery walls like a ship's rigging to suggest the orientation of the cardinal directions of the compass.
Maps have played a large part in Manolson's life.
Her late grandparents immigrated from Minsk, Russia, to Canada where she was raised. A former botanist, Manolson formerly worked in Elk Island National Park, establishing a herbarium and establishing grazing land for bison. She came to the U.S. and became a citizen four years ago.
For Manolson, being "rooted in the garden of her Concord home helps establish her in a more global way.''
"We are connected to the places that are meaningful to us by deep veins of history, heritage, experience and inspiration,'' she said. "...Thus what we glean from our more global view helps us bring a new perspective back to the specifics of the places we know well.''
A detail from the multi-wall installation "Fragile Navigation," a piece made of roots, plaster, maps, and oil paint by Ilana Manolson, on exhibit at the Danforth Museum of Art in Framingham.
artscope: new england's culture magazine
Ilana Manolson: Channeling Thoreau
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ILANA MANOLSON: CHANNELING THOREAU
J. Fatima Martins
145 Lincoln Road
October 1 through 30
Approaching Manolson's abstracted landscape paintings is a sensual experience — you'll feel an immediate rush of attraction to and comfortable recognition of overlapping details mimicking rich organic life. Her style is quickly assessed — a blend of impressionistic color tones and gestural expressionism pulled together, evoking obvious themes. There are seasons in transition, vegetation at various levels of growth and decay, and the alternate movement of water and light exposing and concealing views within a swampy forest canopy — comfortable subject matter lulling you into a pleasant state of mind.
This somnolent feeling passes quickly and a new perspective sets in — delighted confusion. As you shift your viewpoint and move closer, becoming intimate with the image, light refractions appear and markings of paint having been sanded away are discovered; new questions emerge and a sudden realization sets in: Manolson is experimenting.
She challenges me to break the cardinal rule of not petting the art. "Go ahead, touch it and tell me what you see," she said, encouraging me to inspect its surface texture. It's a variety of arousing tactile surprises — surfaces that bring to mind the quality of shinysmooth leaves, with semi-wet, sticky oils conveying the gooey viscosity of decaying vegetation. Her gritty and sandy textures evoke hard transitional layers of sand, stone and tree bark. Manolson wants the viewer to become intimate with her work, to dive deep, to go beyond the surface to discover what's been added and what has been taken away.
For this, her fifth Clark Gallery exhibition, Manolson is presenting a new group of paintings that further expand upon her signature oeuvre — fluid glazes and strokes of manipulated oils on wood panel depicting her observations and meditations upon the impermanent reality of organic forms directed by regional aesthetics and sensibilities. Her paintings reflect the essence of her hometown of Concord, Massachusetts, where she's unmistakably surrounded by Henry David Thoreau's influence and attitude.
Manolson begins the process by painting sketches en plein air at various locations, immersing herself within the environment. Her methods of observation are informed by her training as a botanist, and she may take photographs of a scene to capture atmospheric conditions and time. Each painting is then an amalgamation of various locations, assembled into compositions dictated by formal requirements that emerge as the image is constructed. The recent work is deeply conceptual — portraits of balanced contrasts in stasis and forms in flux moving into minimalism and playing with the idea of cyclical development.
In the new paintings, she builds up surfaces to evoke ephemeral details as she's done in the past, but she now counteracts the layering by reducing elements, physically removing the medium with spatulas, scrapers, sandpaper or water, cleaning out and widening the views.
"Stasis/Flux" is the title of a new experimental painting on Mylar substrate. It's a work that best exemplifies her reductionist approach, and informs the formal qualities and conceptual underpinnings of the rest of the paintings in the exhibition. As a result of Mylar's non-absorptive quality, the fluid nature of oil paint is allowed greater expression. The medium floats on the surface producing a translucent and luminous end result. Conceptually and formally, "Stasis/Flux" is about being as minimally invasive as possible, knowing exactly when to stop and allowing a certain level of comfortable chaos. "The Mylar paintings were experiments, and when I realized what was possible, I wanted to recreate the ... (read more)
ArtSake - Mass Cultural Council
May 15, 2009
Ilana Manolson Paints the Landscape
Ilana Manolson (MCC Painting Fellow ‘08) took a few moments to talk with ArtSake about her work and life.
What artists work do you admire most but paint nothing like? I really like Joan Snyder’s work because I feel like it is deeply personal, rich, and extremely brave work. And in my studio I have written on the wall, simplify, focus, and be brave. Her work, although I feel like it is nothing like mine, does that in a very personal way.
What is the most surprising response to your art you have ever received? The response wasn’t to my artwork, but to the way I identify what I do. Recently I went to a doctor because I was concerned I was having an allergic reaction to a tick repellent I use when I am out in the woods and swamps preparing for painting. When I explained to the doctor that I was working outdoors because I am a landscape painter, she asked, with complete seriousness, What color do you paint the landscape? It reminded me of the gardeners in Alice in Wonderland painting the roses for the queen.
How do you know when your work is done? Great question, and one I ask myself every day. It varies with each piece, which is why I spend as much time subtracting as adding. I often have to let a piece rest, and be what might feel initially a bit underdone, so that it doesn’t suffer from being taken to the point where one more mark turns the whole thing over fussy. I haven’t always managed that - my studio storage area is full of work that has been overdone.
What do you listen to while you paint? I’ve been working very hard preparing for a show in New York and so I’ve needed a lot of music which keeps me dancing. Recently I’ve been listening most to Jane Goldman’s The Jane Gang.
What films have influenced you as an artist? Julian Schnabel’s The Diving Bell and the Butterfly was fascinating because it gave such a strong sense of the vision of a paralyzed man, and for me, it is very meaningful to be able to step into someone else’s vision in some way.
If forced to choose, would you be a magic marker, a crayon, or a #2 pencil? I would be all of the above, and more, because my work is about different mark making and it’s sort of a dance, as I let each mark become its own expression and interweave with the others.
What are you currently reading? I have a mountain of reading growing next to my bed, and one of my current favorites from that stack is Swamp Walker’s Journal by David M. Carroll. And I’m looking forward to reading Tracy Winn’s (MCC Fiction/Creative Nonfiction Fellow ‘08) stories in Mrs. Somebody Somebody.
The unauthorized biography of your life is titled: Finding the Fixed in the Fluid
Do you live with any animals? Three birds, two teenagers, and a whole lot of squirrels who think they would make better use of my studio than I do.
What has the MCC Painting Artist Fellowship meant to you? I’m sure I’ve spent the money more than once it’s encouraged me to choose art materials more freely, to explore more. And it’s connected me with other artists, across disciplines, through events and lectures that I wouldn’t otherwise have been invited to participate in.
SUSAN AND KURT
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Hot Color, Cool Observations
Ilana Manolson's recent show at Jason McCoy surprised me. At first glance I was prepared to dislike it, the super heated color and oily feel of the paint put me off. But the more I looked the more I was drawn in.
Realist elements combined with fields of color abstraction give a riotous picture of the chaos of nature. She seemed a keen observer of plant life and of the moment where things are in flux. As it turned out, she worked as a naturalist doing a long term condition assessment of 12-inch squares of grazing land.
She has interesting painting techniques as well. Layering paint then using spatulas and scrapers to pull up paint revealing highlights that feel internally illuminated. Try to see the show, these images do not convey what the paint reveals.
Metrowest Daily News
Thursday, March 30, 2006
By Chris Bergeron
Painter Ilana Manolson captures nature's ephemeral beauty
Taking a "frog's eye view," Ilana Manolson's paintings capture nature's fecund profusion in a small patch of her back yard.
The Concord artist mixes rich radiant colors to observe the ephemeral beauty of a clump of skunk cabbage or sunlight reflected of a weedy pond.
Manolson's recent paintings meld her earlier career as a botanist with an Impressionist's infatuation with the play of light on nature.
She is showing 16 striking large scale oil paintings from 2005 and 2006 at the Danforth Museum of Art in Framingham. Her exhibit, "Twice Reflected," runs through April 23.
Manolson described her work in the show as "a dance between realism and abstraction."
She paints "en plein air," focusing on small spots in her yard or local places where she walks. Working quickly, she paints on a hard birch board that let’s her recreate the rich natural colors she sees.
"I think what's new is this work catches the essence and spirit of the plant world. The visual world is so rich. If you look for tiny details, they help you describe the larger whole of the environment around you," she said.
Examining things closely, Manolson finds natural dramas she calls "the ignored, inconsequential events" most casual observers miss.
Cattails break through a sheet of ice. Insect-eaten leaves float across a pond's still surface. Sunlight’s burst through a riotous tangle of foliage.
Manolson said her approach to nature-in-miniature "creates a painting with its own dance and rhythm."
"If you look closely enough, abstract patterns emerge," she said. "My work reflects different emotional states. It's the world around me seen through these emotional states."
Manolson has lived in several widely varied places with their own unique natural character.
She was born and raised in Calgary, Canada, and vacationed with her family around the cluster of lakes in the Laurentians region north of Quebec. "I grew up next to a pond. So I developed a sense of looking at life in miniature," she said.
As a teenager, she taught in the Fiji islands in the South Pacific with a Canadian volunteer organization. After returning, she earned a degree in botany and later worked as a naturalist in Elk Island National Park in Edmonton.
Manolson said, "I spent a lot of time looking closely at things. I loved drawing plants."
For Manolson, the seemingly divergent disciplines of botany and painting share her artistic interest in the harmonious balance of opposing forces.
"They're very connected. There's a sense of looking for order and disorder and how they play together. I'm looking for the dance between the two," she said.
Her paintings' titles, "Embracing Weeds," "Transition Tango" and "Fog has a Story" suggest her belief in the organic unity of all living things.
Seeking a new direction, Manolson graduated from the Rode Island School of Design in 1982 starting a new career as a painter and printmaker. She was a partner and co-founder of Artist's Proof, a collaborative print studio in Boston. She has had numerous shows in area museums and is represented by the Clark Gallery in Lincoln.
Danforth Director Katherine French said Manolson's paintings offer viewers "a complex vision that's true to how their eyes see things."
"There's something very special about her work that causes viewers to ask how they look at things," she said. "She just does it. She's at the top of her game."
Art New England
Regional Reviews: Massachusetts
Beyond the Categories at Concord Art Association
Beyond the Categories: A Paint/Print Dialogue
by Meredith Fife Day
When curator Ilana Manolson talks about this show, she refers as often to the "dance" between painting and printmaking as she does to the dialogue. The distinction between the two, and the inclusion of both, gives unity as well as enormous range to the work of the six artists exhibited. Manolson's own work as both a painter and printmaker gives a pronounced sensitivity to the excitement of process, this exhibit's ascendant theme.
Catherine Kernan and Michael Mazur cross boundaries between painting and printmaking by combining the two. Kernan, in adjoining 12-inch square boards has divided and painted over a large print. In the resulting irregularly edged grid, she brings attention to the unrestrained growth of her images of leaves, stems, and branches. Mazur, whose extraordinary calligraphic vocabulary and color sense naturally expand existing language and methods, turns in his new work to stencil, collage, and airbrush. He seems to rule nothing out and experiments with open-ended inventiveness that bridges his early work with the present.
Peik Larson and Joel Janowitz move between the print and the painting with offhand poise, as if they are performing a masterfully scripted monologue. Larson's 47-inch-by-72-inch oil on board Palmeria has the crisp sparkle of his monoprint, and Janowitz, in Greenhouse Shadows: Hanging Plants, imbues his monotype with painterly richness. Heddi Siebel and Peggy Badenhausen give each medium more control over expression. Siebel paints on-site with fresh, quick handling of oil and exactitude of light. Her prints, also of the landscape, are dark and turbulently expressive. Badenhausen, working from dance and music notations, brings an intellectual order to her prints that is subsumed in her large and arresting oil painting, In the Distance, by a physicality as fundamental and life-giving as breathing.
The Boston Globe
Friday, October 21, 2005
Looking Down to See the Sky at The Clark Gallery, Lincoln, October 2005
A Meeting of Mediums
by Cate McQuaid, Globe Correspondant
Ilana Manolson, better known as a printmaker, is showing her paintings at Clark Gallery - and they reveal a printmaker's touch. Painters build light by layering colors; printmakers let the light shine by leaving their plates bare and letting the paper show through. Manolson uses both techniques. In taking a frog's-eye view of pond life, putting us amid the reeds and water, she uses her paint the way she might use ink in a monotype, ranging from watery washed to more opaque, cleanly articulated forms.
The vivid, accomplished results pulse with energy. Up close, the works look dense and lusciously abstract, but form a distance the intimate landscapes appear. "Embracing Weeds" sets blue-green leaves and dark green fronds in a party over the surface as the bluish ground beneath drips and dissolves. "Autumn Smells Like Change" closes in on a tiny, reflective passage of purple-red water. Brown reeds rise as their husks peel off and dangle along the water's surface.
Manolson's mastery of her medium and her easy with the thicket of perceptions at pond level, from geometric rhythms to the way water shimmers, turn her simple subject matter into opportunities for revelation and reflection.
Thursday, March 6, 2003
Diving in Shallow Water
finds inspiration in Concord's Macone's Pond
Ilana Manolson, a nationally recognized artist who lives and works in Concord,
is having three shows in March. Two shows in Lincoln and Concord contain
a Series of paintings she has made standing in the same spot at Macone's
Pond in Concord, observing the water's edge in different seasons, different
lights and different weather conditions. She says, "By staying in the
same spot day after day, I find I get to see the surprises and the changes.
I see the ups and down of pond life from a frog's eye view."
A one-person show of her paintings entitled "Deep Diving in Shallow
Water," will be on display at the Clark Gallery in Lincoln from March
4 through March 27. Her work will also be represented in a group show entitled
"Seven Concord Artists" at the Concord Art Association that will
be on display from March 4 to 30. Both shows contain landscape paintings
made at Macone's Pond and at Lac Revdor in Quebec where she a/so has a home.
Like her prior work, she looks at the relationship between order and disorder
in the context of her life. She says about her current series of paintings,
"The water's edge is a place where the solid realities of muck and
mud mingle with the ethereal forms of reflected clouds, where the rotting
of old plants brings forth new life, where the fluidity of water is held
firm by linear plants. I go to the swamp not to be kind to mosquitoes but
to look for the place where these contradictions coexist, where order and
disorder meet. When I look closely at the water's edge, an order of tight,
color and structure seems to emerge. I weave together in paint this emerging
Manolson has exhibited her work in galleries in Boston and other parts of
New England as well as in New York, Toronto and elsewhere. Her work can
be found in the collections of museums including the Museum of Fine Arts,
the De Cordova Museum; the Boston Public Library and the Fuller Museum,
as well as in numerous private collections.
Manolson's work has always been noted for her strong color sense and her
use of light and shadow. Cate McQuaid of the Boston Globe described her
work as "swirling with light and breathtaking color." Another
reviewer, Christine Temin also of the Boston Globe, described her work as
having "a rich play of exquisite, jewel-like colors."
Manolson is well known in the Boston area for the use of monoprints, one-of-a-kind
prints that marry elements of printmaking and painting. Her third show this
month, at the Galeria Espacio Abierto in Havana, Cuba, features monoprints.
She received a degree in printmaking from the Rhode Island School of Design.
She was one of four partners in a Cambridge print studio called Artists
Proof that has been recognized for its role in the development of printmaking
in Boston. Proof in Print, Published by the Boston Public Library, contains
a collection of prints by the Artists Proof founders, other artists who
worked in that studio, and of artists at the several studios in the Boston
area and South Africa that were spawned when Artists Proof was forced to
disband, a victim of gentrification.
Manolson moved to Concord in 1995 with her husband and two children. She
built a studio next to her house and can be seen painting at the edge of
several ponds and rivers in Concord.
Wednesday, February 16, 2000
By Christine Temin
Down Roots /
Who Shall Live and Who Shall Die
unites the solo shows two Boston artists at Clark Gallery - monoprints
and paintings by Ilana Manolson and glazed stoneware vessels by Bruce
Barry - is their shared organic quality. Manolson, who uses everyday objects
to express emotional states, and whose exploding house series of many
years ago suggested a world of disorder, here focuses on a simple flower
bulb. Her world, the image suggests, has calmed down.
Most of Manolson's works at Clark are monoprints, each with a bulb in
some stage of its natural cycle. Root systems dominate; some are long
and lacy others tenacious and muscular. Roots and bulbs are, of course,
generally unseen, covered by earth; in revealing them, Manolson also reveals
their strength and ultimate vulnerability. Some bulbs are in bloom but
the flower is the least of what's happening here, the tip of the iceberg.
Some flowers droop like Barry's pots; one stem arches extravagantly, as
if trying to go somewhere else.
Manolson floats her bulbs in ambiguous environments of mossy greens, creating
a kind of bulb heaven. An exception to the general serenity of these works
is the seven-part series 'Who Shall Live and Who Shall Die."
The words of the title are stenciled on backgrounds as tumultuous as an
ocean in gale-force winds; in the center of each print is bulb trying
to ride out the storm and get on with life.
Barry's and Manolson's works are at Clark Gallery in Lincoln through Feb.
Friday March 2, 2001
By Cate McQuaid
Down Roots /
Who Shall Live and Who Shall Die
Review: Beauty of these artworks printed dearly
It's easy to conjure up the romantic image of an artist in his or her
garret, toiling away alone to turn inspiration into art. Printmakers who
rely on big presses to make their work don't often have that luxury of
solitude. They invest with other artists in cooperative studios, where
many people have access to the machinery of their medium. They end up
having a different luxury: community.
In 1980, four recent art school graduates rented a space in East Cambridge
and installed some presses. Jane Goldman, Catherine Kernan, Ilana Manolson,
and Mary Sherwood called their enterprise Artist's Proof Studio. After
only four years of creative cross-fertilization, the studio closed when
gentrification priced the artists out of the rented space. Its passing
was not wasted, though; artists who worked there went on to found their
own printmaking studios, in the Boston area and in South Africa.
Proof In Print: A Community of Printmaking Studios" at the
Boston Public Library's Wiggin Gallery, takes a close look at the work
of Artist's Proof and its descendants, the Mixit Print Studio and Hand
Press Workshop in Somerville, and Artist Proof Studio in Johannesburg,
South Afri-ca. The show, which travels here from Johannesburg, is the
brain-child of the original Artist's Proof founders and Sinclair Hitchings,
keeper of prints at the BPL. The exhibit features a selection from portfolios
made especially to trace and celebrate the genealogy of Artists
Proof. Sales of the portfolios will benefit the South African studio,
the only collective of its kind in that region, founded by Artist's Proof
printmaker Kim Berman.
There are pictures from the 1980s on view in a side gallery, but the main
event is the contempo-rary work put together for the portfolio. Manolson's
"Putting Down Roots," an Ink Jet print and monotype, shows a
cluster of plants and stones with roots spraying beneath them, embossed
from the ink-stained roots them-selves. Berman's "Ashes of Truth"
is a three-plate intaglio suggesting a smoky, surreal landscape smol-dering
in a mustardy haze, barren save for occasional tufts of grass sprouting
Berman went on to found Artist Proof - the name a nod to its predecessor
- in South Africa. These African prints, by Berman and a half-dozen other
artists, stand out from the Boston prints in both color and content; many
of the works are saturated with yellows, greens, and reds, and almost
all of them are representational, with a strong narrative element Pauline
Mazibuko's four-color lithograph At the Market Place" appears
sun-drenched, with women shading themselves beneath a parasol, seated
on the ground, selling fruit. Jacob Motsoane's etching and aquatint celebrates
a newfound right: A black man casts a ballot, slipping it into the slot
of a big, wooden box.
Hand Press Workshop specializes in experimental monotypes. Deborah Olins
piece from The T-Shirt Series" suggests she ran the inky T-shirt
through the press. At the Mixit Studio, the setup of presses and studio
space makes artists more prone to work independently. You can see the
independence in the wide range of techniques and subject matter coming
from Mixit. Joanna Kao's woodcut "Face" looms up in grainy white
from a sea of black ink, a harrowing visage that is grim and war-like.
Jennifer Perry's "Mnemosyne II," was printed from a soft etching
plate stitched with human hair, delicate and unsettling strands over a
bird cage shape.
It's nearly impossible to trace the influences the Artist's Proof printmakers
and their descendants have had upon one another. Each is confident enough
to his or her own artistry that no work seems derivative of another. The
South African prints stand out for the shared vision of their culture;
because the culture is still defining itself post-Apartheid, it makes
sense that the art would be more narrative as the artists tell the stories
of who they are becoming.
At: Wiggin Gallery, The Boston Public Library, 700 Boylston St., through
Boston Printmakers 2001 North American Biennial
At: 808 Gallery, Boston University, 808 Commonwealth Ave., through April
NEW ENGLAND 1996 August/September
by Susan Maluski
Beck Gallery / Boston
Ilana Manolson: The Unstill Life
Usually inanimate objects ascend, soar, rotate, and gyrate in Ilana Manolson's The Unstill Life, this accomplished artists fifth one-person show
at the Randall Beck Gallery. In this likable exhibition, Manolson uses
ordinary kitchen objects to show the motion and emotion of everyday life.
The artist explains, "I try to capture the fragile balance of competing
demands, as stacked plates or bowls strain to avoid falling." This
kinetic crockery, with its connotation of home and hearth, captures the
imbalance, upheaval, and strain of the domestic realm.
There is a definite feeling of weightlessness and things spinning out
of control in many of the thirteen monoprints: the contents of cups spatter
up and out, bowls oscillate as if they are about to blast off. In Motion/Emotion,
green bowls and cups teeter precariously on the edge of a table and an
elongated spoon almost becomes a projectile hurtling upward. Oddly enough,
the unsettled feeling brings to mind Cezanne's still lifes in their distorted
angles and highly manipulated perspective.
In Coffee Cup Dreams four stacked bowls appear to have been dropped,
their fall caught just before impact. A sense of arrested movement is
heightened not only by the energetic composition but also by the active
brushstroke, splotches, and sprays of vibrant color. Amid the upheaval,
a small red cherrylike form appears to be the only static object in the
composition, stable reference point in the flux of dishes.
Hues used throughout the show - marigold yellow, saffron, red-orange,
chartreuse, parrot green, Caribbean blue--are radiant thanks to the artist's
inspired juxtapositions. In Tea and Tango, an image with two blue-green
bowls on a turquoise table, one small orange orb bal-ances the group;
in Kitchen Flight swirls of yellow-green shoot out in spirals with
energy of a tornado unleashed from inside the cupboard.
The show includes several more subdued restful works. Ghost of Tea
Times Past could take place underwater, the murky blue-green palette
accented by white air bubbles. In Forged Path, deep blues, greens,
and purples form two cups in a bowl rocking and swaying in the frothy
waves. Only the glimpse of a table edge, a small bright orange zip, brings
us back to terra firma.
Dirty Dishes, the only oil painting exhibited, depicts several
thick weighty jars crammed into a heavy, round, shallow bowl. Compared
with the hyperactive locomotion of the cups and saucers, the jars look
in dire need of liberation. Perhaps these tightly capped jars could also
benefit from letting off a little steam of their own.
April 25, 1996
By Cate McQuaid
Dishes; rocking horse winners; affable animals
Life," Ilana Manolson's show of monoprints at the Randall Beck Gallery,
could alternately be titled "The Secret Life of Bowls." These
prints, swirling with light and breathtaking color, take the domestic
subject of many still lifes and set it spinning. The artist suggests in
her statement that her works address the chaos of real life that belies
the fragile order of a well-stocked china cabinet, but the sheer beauty
of her images brings them head and shoulders above any frank discussion
of disorder in the realm of magic.
Manolson equates motion
with emotion, and her prints rush and bubble breathlessly with swift brush
strokes. "Tea and Tango" takes place on a rich turquoise ground
suffused with light. A dusky, periwinkle bowl rimmed with the white of
the exposed paper sits near the bottom of the frame, and a golden, bubbly
fire rushes out of it, both pushing and cradling a second bowl. The fire
curves around the second bowl and back into it, where it cushions a mug
that spins away from the bowls as a sparkling explosion of white spills
from its mouth.
With tea cups flying
and bowls spinning, the first thing to come to mind when looking at these
prints may not be a Japanese tea ceremony, but Manolson invests her subject
matter with the same kind of respect and energy that goes into just such
a Buddhist ritual. There is new life and understanding in event moment,
and in the most mundane of objects. Even dishes will dance and spark you
let them, and this artist has.
Thusday, July 21, 1994
By Nancy Stapen
Months: Motherhood as Muse
Summer is the slowest time of the year in the galleries. One word that
comes to mind is barren. Not at Howard Yezerskis, though,
where a show called Nine Months: Art and Pregnancy presents
an unusual fertile offering.
Eleven artists from Boston, New York and Los Angeles take diverse approaches
to the subject. Media range from the traditional painting, drawing, photography
and printmaking to mixed-media construction and sewn objects.
An issue that surfaces repeatedly is the cultures conflicting attitudes
towards pregnancy. Artists here explore the contradictions between the
glorified pedestal pregnant women may be placed on, the desexualization
of the mother and the sense of the maternal body as communal property
as in those oft-told recitations of pregnant women about the way
that complete strangers will approach with advise, even going so far as
to touch their stomachs
Boston artist Ilana Manolson created visual diaries during
and immediately after her two pregnancies. She represents each day with
a small plastic bag filled or adorned with symbolic objects and text.
Displayed in a grid, these excerpts range from stones arranged
like a fertility goddess (apparently not too sublime for Manolson; its
accompanied by the text: That awkward stage. No one knows Im
pregnant and my breasts are already twice the size.), to crossed
red and purple gloves each holding an egg, marked with the words delicate
juggle. All harried new mothers, as well as some new dads, will
identify with such postpartum highs of self care as Manolsons drawing
of a shower faucet with the words Its a great day got
to dental floss, shower and cut my nails.
The grid is frequently used motif, perhaps reflecting the search for order
in the chaotic world of new motherhood
The show also includes works by Emily Cheng, Ana Maria Hernando and Aida
Laleian. Karl Lundeberg is the only male in the show a limitation
which, according to Yezerski, created a lot of indignation among
male artists, who felt We get pregnant too. Organizers
Tom Graboskys and Natasha Otero-Santiagos decision to restrict
themselves to women artists follows in the tradition of such artists as
Mary Cassatt, Berthe Morisot and Julia Margeret Cameron, who, long before
Demi Moore was a glint in Tina Browns eye, pioneered the female
interpretation of the mother-child relationship.
Thursday March 25, 1993
New Angles on Geometry
The Boston Globe
In her show of oil
paintings and monotypes at the Randall Beck Gallery, Ilana Manolson continues
her explorations of geometric forms in space. Previous works depicted
cubes and spheres exploding into asymmetrical forms, suggesting degeneration
and chaos. This series is more optimistic; the forms seem less driven
by frenetic, out-of-control impulses, more in tune with nature's harmony.
The monotypes are especially buoyant. Swiftly applied inks and ghostly
impressions lend them an appealing freshness, with spheres whirl}rig through
fields of layered color. The surrounding space, punctuated by spirals
and concentric circles, evokes ongoing motion. Nature's micro and macro
levels are called forth, with suggestions of DNA as well as perpetually
The paintings employ a similar format and gold, orange and green palette,
but the tones grow darker, and the hard edges of the cubes become, more
pronounced. An attempt is made to bring light into the works, by scratching
through the layers, but the effort seems labored and the colors muddy.
Than Manolson works so will in the difficult medium of monotype
which is, ironically, predisposed to muddiness suggests that her
gifts lie in the direction of the fluid, spontaneous processes.
May 9, 1991
Special to the Globe
By Nancy Stapen
New Angles on Geometry
TO THE GLOBE: New angles on geometry
From skyscrapers to the ubiquitous black box, geometric units are such
an intrinsic part of our experience, we hardly give them a moment's thought.
But these primary organizers of space - in both the natural and manmade
worlds - are the traditional building blocks of artists. The minimalism
of the '60s, which venerated reduced geometric form at the expense of
all embellishment, represents something of an apotheosis of this tendency;
it remains a touchstone for many artists today.
In Ilana Manolson's oil paintings, geometric units, which usually symbolize
stability, are erupted and imploded. Order, or the lack of it, is the
subject here; the word crops up repeatedly in titles such as Order
on the Rebound I, Out of Order," etc. Spheres pop out
of cubes like crazed jack-in-the-boxes; brushy swirls of paint rushing
in and around these forms suggest wind, fire and floods. The palette is
a combative mix of fiery yellows and reds and acid greens, underscoring
the hyperactive ambience. This is dearly a world where the center no longer
A second series dealing with entropy presents geometric forms at rest.
Painted in black and white, they suggest the middle ground between freneticism
Manolson upends our notion of geometry as a soothing, harmonious means
of structuring experience. Instead, she offers a formal equivalent for
a society veering out of control, where geometric icons of classicism
are merely s finger in the darn of cataclysmic chaos and fragmentation.
April 25, 1991
New Angles on Geometry
: CHANGING WORLDS
Manolson's art has an unsettled quality: in the past, one of her main
subjects has been boxes---captured mid-explosion suggesting the end of
a little world. Along with the sense of unease, though, there has been
lusciousness to her work, thanks to her handling of paint, pastel and
paper, She revels in their tactile qualities, creating a sense of joy
akin to that in a childs finger painting. Manolson's new show offers
cubes, pyramids and spheres in stacks that are about to keel over. It's
an abstract reflection, the artist says, of the flux and change of her
225 Newbury St., through May 11.
By Christine Temin
the Roof Blows the Sky's the Limit
Teasing contradictions about space lurk in liana Manolson's big pastel/collage
pieces, at the Randall Beck Gallery, 168 Newbury St-., through October
15. Manolson presents fractured architecture in these new works that are
larger and less coy than her earlier ones. She once did charming little
paper pieces that depicted exploding boxes; now she's more interested
in stairwells, and her work is the more powerful for the shift in scale.
She's now capable of creating swirling, hallucinatory spaces, filled with
flying staircases that go unanchored to floors: To climb these stairs
is to walk the plank.
In the large "Inside/Outlook," Manolson uses overlapping, ragged-edged
sheets of paper that spell out shallowness, while a pastel drawing of
a steeply descending staircase pulls the viewer into deep space, Manolson's
lush colors- here a peach and plum palette - are captivating from across
the room, and pull the viewer into a closer inspection of her spatial
A less elusive subject than her slippery spaces is the urban dirt and
decay that Manolson's new works depict. Smudgy passages are rubbings from
real city brick. but here the soot, smoke and grime are transformed into
a richly attractive play of textures. A work called "Urban Ruin"
unites Manolson's spaces and textures particularly well, with a faint
grid, shadows and light all adding drama to the fiat, torn papers that
suddenly turn into a vertiginous view of a staircase.
"Writing on the Wall" is a piece of urban archeology, its sense
of dirt, age and accumulation built with layer upon layer of shredded
flyers and advertisements that could have come from a city fence or telephone
pole. "Turning the Corner I" is a com-plete contrast. This work
is a pastel without collage elements, and the restraint in the choice
of medium helps to create a calm and con-templative air.
Exploding houses, endless series of archways and stairways going nowhere
are some of Ilana Manolson's favorite images. The spaces In Manolson's
large pastel collages are topsy-turvy, with planes slicing into each other
with no apparent logic. Adding to the appeal of the work are her luscious,
smudgy, gritty colors and her oddly effective combinations of fragments
of drawings, rubbed impressions of urban walls and scraped fragments of
fliers posted in public areas. Manolson, a young Boston artist, is on
sabbatical in New York, but her recent work is at the Randall Beck Gallery
on Newbury Street through Oct. 15
the Roof Blows the Sky's the Limit
The 76th American Annual Exhibition
Take a relatively
static theme- interior spaces and put twenty-six unstatic artists
to work in a variety of media, and you come up with this lively exhibition.
From the ethereal, Hooper-esque interior painting of artists like William
Grainge and Marcia Lassar, to the imaginative creativity of such artists
as Sandra Pirie, David Judelson and Ilana Manolson, this show succeeds
in re-energizing a traditional and somewhat tired subject.
Manolson and Judelson took the spotlight with an exhibition signature
piece entitled Both Sides. The artists combined their talents to create
a flattened, quirky environment a European alleyway building
through a series of hinged panels on which the interior and exterior scenes
are painted. The piece invites you to explore it inside and out, and from
certain vantage points you can look from the outside in to see a series
of rooms through a window.
Sandra Pirie, by the way of a cartoonish, flattened room, blown apart,
suggests that our interior environment is as fragile as out lives. Her
acrylic on foamboard wall hangings attaches checkerboard linoleum to a
wall, a ladder and misshapen window; the whole room askew yet strangely
neat. The overall effect is strangely semi-surreal and lyrical, suggesting
that we might all be living in a carnival funhouse.
Manolsons similar pastel collage, When the Roof Blows, the Skys
the Limit, scales life down to a size where you can get a better grip
on it. In the humorously quirky piece, she suggests that you never quite
know when things might be blown apart, but that fear is more frightening
The exhibition avoids uniformity with the inclusion of such works as those
mentioned above, along with pieces such as John Devaneys semi-abstracted
underwater scene and Joseph Normans huge, vertical death dream.
But the main force of Interior Scenes emanates from the finely rendered
oil paintings of a narrative kind by artists such as Grainge, Bryan Davagian,
Jemison Faust, Jacqueline Lima, Suzanne White and others.