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Opening September 5, 2002 at Studio 343, San Pedro

by Ray Zone

Painter Sony Felberg is interested in pop and subculture. "Observing these cultures through my work as a Sound Engineer inspires me to translate their lives on the canvas," Felberg writes. "The emotion from these people dictates the choice of color, movement, and even composition."

Felberg makes some very painterly choices in his use of color and the manner in which he applies acrylic paint to his canvases. The paintings have very little descriptive detail, but convey plenty of energy in the use of freeflowing paint. Massed sections of color cohere to form an image that is very impressionistic. The movements of Felberg's brush seem quick, in keeping with his kinetic subject matter. It is almost as if Felberg creats a painterly equivalent of a hand-held video camera, and this produces the visual quality of thrusting the viewer into the image.

Skateboarding or "street skating" fascinates Felberg. He has captured some of the dangerous street "tricks" that young skaters execute in public, such as sliding down steel handrails or concrete abutments using techniques like the "front-side nose grind," where the skater rides a rail sideways on the middle of the board with the wheels on either side. The impressionistic style in which Felberg works steers clear of suggesting graffiti art or the totemic line-art imagery one usually sees on the skateboards themselves or t-shirts related to the sport. But it is a style that is nearly abstract in its technique and absolutely painterly. Like the extreme sport they document which constantly pushes toward the edge of physical impossibility, Felberg's skateboard paintings are daring in their sense of intuitively felt composition and abbreviated surface detail.

In contrast to the ubiquity of logos, posters and graffiti, the artist attempts to juxtapose landscapes with abrupt intrusions of the modern world. "Humans in flight break up the tranquil sky," he observes. In the vertical piece titled Skid a young skateboarder doing a front-side nose grind seems to take flight into the rich blue sky at the top of the composition.

Pool Skate depicts the kinetic energy of a young skater "grinding on the lip" of an empty swimming pool as sketchily painted observers in the background await their turn to attempt the same trick. This contemporary urban landscape is painted on a horizontal canvas that is cinemascopic in its breadth.

In a series of Mardi Gras paintings Felberg states that he was inspired to create a "collage effect" because "Mardi Gras is a conglomeration of different types of people." The energy and color of these paintings runs riot across the surface of the canvas. The collage effect is reinforced by a diverse collection of human archetypes overlapping each other in a great variety of sizes.

For a series of paintings on the Rave music scene of intense, fast-paced parties, Felberg worked fast and furiously. "I used knives to get the 3D experience," he notes. "I needed to use the angles and light to create the movement of dance and music." Resonating complementary colors clash with great energy in the Rave series. The kinetic movements of young people dancing and moving to music are conveyed via raw slashes of paint. The negative space in the canvas, created by the atmosphere surrounding celebrants, is also infused with a slashing energy of color and light.

Felberg's paintings need to be experienced up close. They are as much about their own kinetic surface energy as the contemporary subject matter they depict.

"Skid", 2002, a/c, 15" x 30".

"Pool Skate,” 2002, a/c, 15 x 30”.

"Mardi Gras," 2002, a/c, 20" x 24".

"Rave," 2002, a/c, 15" x 30".