soniEllington-White Contemporary Gallery selected seven artists to participate in Pictorial Space, the new exhibit at the Fayetteville and Cumberland County Arts Council. Visitors to the gallery will be able compare the ways in which these artists express their ideas about the pictorial and objects in space. The exhibit will remain up until Aug.  20. 

Investigating pictorial and aesthetic space was a pivotal development in modern painting. For a representational artist, the object(s) being painted may only be the starting point for the idea of what a painting or drawing can become. For other artists, objects are not copied or represented but viewed as elements of a new reality. Many abstract artists have eliminated a person, place or thing in the natural world; the content of the work can often be about form (color, shapes, scale, line, etc.) and the process of making.

“Rhapsody in Green” by Suzanne Aulds is a beautiful realistic painting of a still life. The painting of a larger-than-life orchid announces itself in the gallery. Detail by detail, Aulds has interpreted, in shades of green and white, a table setting with a plate, orchid and other objects - carefully placed. The illusion of the still life on a two-dimensional surface is at once intriguing, yet the artist has still used artistic license in how she presents distance and guides us to see contour and volume. More than what is being described in the work, Aulds artfully creates a space that informs the viewer about gravity and a type of weightlessness. 

While Aulds’ approach to painting is tonal, painter Deborah Reavis exaggerates color and the contour line to evoke meaning. Although the work is representational of people and the still-life, patterns of patterns of color and shape emerge as equally important as the subject. 

In comparison, Vilas Tonape is interpreting similar issues in an abstract style. A well-known realist artist, for Pictorial Space he was asked to show his abstract works on paper and canvas. Even though the works are abstract, Tonape is realizing the illusion of distance by applying overlapping - color and texture are inseparable from visual weight, gravity and anti-gravity. 

Photographer Capel States uses the floral still-life as a way to evoke a Baroque space of color and fluidity. Using technology, States has literally created states-of-being, flora with crisp edges in an oozy, smoke-filled environment. 

Dwight Smith is sharing several of his drawings and several paintings in the exhibit. Where several of the artists are exact in their approach to the placement of an object or shape, Dwight is the exact opposite. The act of drawing and painting is a process of immediacy, discovery and possibilities. Material and surfaces become rhythmic sources – types of energy emerge. 

As well, Becky Lee works in an abstract manner; but her focus is on the expressive quality of color. For Lee large areas of color wash across the pictorial surface and we are left with an impression of sunlight, water or the green of a landscape. Ever connected to the environment, Lee’s minimal compositions seem to be an effort to bath the viewer with the power of color - an appeal to our visual senses in a tactile way. 

Yours truly is participating in the exhibit. As an artist, I find mixing abstraction with something recognizable is a way to explore perceptions and meaning. For example, That’s Another Conversation, a painting on a Birchwood veneered panel, combines mixed flattened patterns or shapes with a representational element (drips of water). The juxtaposition of the dissimilar is a way of jumping from one reality to another – flat or three-dimensional asserts its own autonomy in the work. As if to say, “look at me, look at me.”

For information on Pictorial Space, call the Arts Council at 323-1776 or visit the Ellington-White website at

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