SHARON FEDER

 

Sharon Feder, ”Station No 7”

 

 

April 11 - May 16, 2015 at George Billis Gallery, Culver City

by Simone Kussatz

 

 

Denver-born artist Sharon Feder has the ability to metamorphose the banal into the extraordinary. The objects in her paintings give the impression to be more than, say, rail tracks, telephone poles, power lines or buildings to provide shelter or work space. They are like skeletons, providing evidence of the core structure of the energy of the people who designed and relied on them. Feder regards all of this at something of a distance, as objects representing our cultural heritage and civilization. Her paintings, mostly created by applying color on top of a red and brown-toned underpainting via brush and palette knife, also depict nature’s interaction with the made environment, such as the sun reflecting off buildings, causing different atmospheres, in contrast with how human beings create energies through our pure being, or what Hegel refers to as “Dasein.” One can’t miss Norman Lundin’s influence, under whom Feder studied at University of Washington in Seattle, on her exploration of light and shadows and the search for resulting geometric forms.

 

 

 

Sharon Feder, ”Station No 7,” 2012, oil on canvas, 48 x 36”.

 

 

Alternatively Feder’s paintings can offer a place of calm, or insinuate the tension within the human psyche. “By learning to appreciate what may seem to be the least lovely aspects of my environment, I am also learning to love what are my own least lovely qualities," Feder says.“I paint buildings for the same reason I listen to audio books of historical fiction while I create: I am fascinated by the choices we humans make and I am compelled to understand the nature and consequences of those choices.” Her paintings are rendered in the grey zone between abstract and representational art. At first glance they seem representational, but it they are more about color combinations (like ochre against blue hues, red-orange against brown hues) and how paint is applied than subject matter. It is an approach inspired by Colorado artist Ed Marecak (died in 1993).

 

The works in “Curb Appeal” range from small 6 by 6 inch scale to larger ones measuring 40 by 60 inches, and are painted from a streetwise perspective. The show also includes several selections from her previous series, “Industrial” and “Buy.” In “Inglewood No.1”, one can see a mixture of storefronts in various colors with spiraling wires — reminiscent of a tablature for composition — loosely hanging above their roofs. It is presented as a giant still life in which the shadows of buildings create parallelograms and other geometric shapes. The curb in this image not only creates a horizontal line, but also a contrast to the colors of the sidewalk and street.

 

“Broadway No.1,” “Buy” and “Your Message” all reflect Feder’s background as a muralist and sign artist. The first is a sparkling composition of a building on a corner at Broadway on which shadows of tree branches create a delicate pattern, topped by the words “Say Yes” that serve as an invitation for the viewer to notice nature. The ironically titled “Buy” depicts an old warehouse, which feels like a cautionary tale about the negative impact of American mass consumerism on society and nature. “Your Message” features an empty and somewhat window-less industrial building in Los Angeles with the words “Your Life” painted on its front façade. As Feder describes it, “On the building were huge painted words, along with terrific tagging on top of the windowpanes, the juxtaposed geometry of billboard and bridge, the angles created by light and shadow. All this intrigued me, visually, in the sense of urban archeology...” It reminds me of the quote in which Gandhi said, “My life is my message.” Feder’s paintings are at once an aesthetic expression and a spiritual engagement.