Featured Review of 'Quiet Spaces' in Pulp

Review authored by John Carlos Cantú. Tp read the original post, click here. 

Kathleen Alfonso’s Quiet Spaces paintings are biomorphic abstractions. Her art hums with a quiet spiritual conviction and it has turned Kerrytown Concert House into a meditative setting for leisurely contemplation.

As Alfonso tells us in her gallery statement: “Let us join together in celebration of the beautiful natural world we have around us; the ever-changing landscape that delights and nourishes our soul.” She says her work is meant to “fulfill a need in our human nature to connect with the natural world," and to give word to Alfonso’s imaginative color-field configurations she uses the examples of “the intrinsic design of a plant leaf so full of variety and life; light shining and creating shadows into a space; or the current of water flowing and creating ripples and reflection."

Ultimately, she wisely concludes, art is “complex; but simply viewed, causing us to respond.”

We do respond because Alfonso’s work invites a personal response as long as the viewer is willing to surrender to her compositions, which seek to reveal internal discoveries in the eyes of beholders as much as they are formal works of creativity.

Alfonso’s statement, therefore, reflects a keen awareness of what it is she is striving to do with her varied mediums of pencil and graphite, pastel, mixed-media/collage, mixed-media paintings, and acrylic pigments. Her “quiet spaces” -- like the spiritual balance they artfully depict -- are not weighted too heavily by one form over or against another. Instead, this exhibit is designed to sweep viewers along with Alfonso’s reverie.

Whether using a post-painterly wash to brush across her working surface or to construct a more directed tactile graphing of organic imagery to suggest nature, Alfonso’s deft facture enlivens her compositions through these delimited strategies. Her works are disciplined and nuanced examples that less is often more when it comes to art.

For instance, Alfonso’s 20x26 inch pigmented Misty Evening is an abstracted landscape that’s crafted through four distinct visual planes: running from a pensive, near-diaphanous cloudy background through roughly textured earthen midground to an equally rich blue waterscape foreground. Alfonso’s pigments efficiently bleed from ground to ground to craft a serene yet nearly undetectable distant shore. All is inferred, nothing is stated.

On the other hand, the oversized 26x25 inch Cultivating Truth finds Alfonso more assertively handling her compositional elements through acrylic gesture. In this work, she uses a patterned blue and purple background that’s abetted by a foreground curvilinear organic pattern whose vertical swirling anchors the whole. Phonology meets mute articulation in this handsome painting.

The masterwork in this display is the 27x37 inch Windows to Soul. This dramatically oversized artwork melds the varied elements of Alfonso’s abstract artistry into a single striking composition. Her penchant for pattern is proportionately met by her restless exploration of chromaticity as the work’s recurrent design serves as the foundational basis of the painting. She opens the painting’s objective projection to introspective inspection, crafting a horizontal Rorschachesque internal tension through her repetitive blue pigments coupled with the understated yet dramatically nuanced saturation of her paper.

As Alfonso tells us in the conclusion of her gallery statement, “Connecting the natural world with the inner spiritual world is the essence of my work. It is the serenity of the place or a complexity of the moment which has been caught in my piece.”