A glance past the solemn wooden doors of Sullivan Goss Art Gallery reveals billowing clouds painted in innocent shades of pink, as if they were rising and sweetly erupting from the base of the painting. Haunted by the voices of Hiroshima, transparent rockets shoot skywards against the graphically inspired clouds in Yumiko Glover’s “Peacemaker III.”
Inside the galleries hushed white walls lives a new exhibition of paintings fervent in their bright colors and abstracted shapes. The works by Claudia Borfiga, Julika Lackner and Yumiko Glover featured in Pattern Recognition fall together like old acquaintances reunited.
In a walk around the gallery, Jeremey Tessmer, gallery director, noted how the mid 70s to mid 80s Pattern and Decoration movement debunked the outdated idea that fine art is for men and crafts are for women. Andy Warhol’s soup cans played a part in the artistic revolution that brought graphic design onto the same plane as fine art, allowing them to exist in dialogue.
“Everything cool about millennial graphic design is here,” Tessmer said.
The simplified graphic shapes seen throughout the exhibition – popularized by computerized design – are hip and modern. Today’s remix culture seems to hold a subtle influence on the alterations of the natural landscapes in these works.
In adjacent corners, Claudia Borfiga’s detailed screen prints move the eye through natural elements in colorful patterned settings. “Jungle Cow” depicts a regal cow decorated with jewelry, celebrating the humble creature that symbolizes life in Hindu culture. Nearby, “Maize” celebrates multicolored corn that has supported an ancient pueblo community in Colorado for generations.
The accessible form of screen printing allows Borfiga to include her Santa Barbara community in workshops, a homage to the nature of art that brings people together. Borfiga teaches her students how to layer colors using cut-out designs. The process is broken down enough to be less intimidating than holding a paintbrush in front of a white canvas.
Across the room, Julia Lackner’s vibrant work subtly alters our own perception of atmosphere and light, as it reveals itself the longer one looks. Lackner captures the colors of the ocean and hills of Pismo in “Dunes,” then flattens the shapes into a linear and graphic form.
“Mountain of the Sun 8” and “Blue Moon 1” complement each other in similar abstract scenes, rising over triangular mountains. The deep blues in the moon contrast with the dripping golds in the sun. Throughout her series, the use of gold and silver foil draws in natural light as well as our attention.
Sprinkled between the other two artists, the colors and shapes of the cherry blossom tree repeatedly emerge in Yumiko Glover’s work. The ephemeral and abrupt bloom in springtime is a powerful motif in Japanese culture.
“Transience VII” shows a pixelated form of a cherry blossom tree, painted in scales of skin tones. It speaks of life's “mujo,” or impermanence, in the modern digital age.
“Peacemaker III” represents the suffering of women often forgotten throughout the history of wars. Designs of flowers and plants blend with the clouds – designs inspired by the pre-war kimonos that Japanese women had to sell or trade for food in scarce wartimes. Often reflecting the flowers of the season in which they were born, it was as if they were trading a symbol of their identity.
Yumiko’s work reminds us of the beautiful poignancy of life – fleeting and in flux.
“I was thinking about that with our life in general,” Glover said. “To me, the cherry blossom captures that aesthetic of unexpected transience and the importance of our natural world, life and death.”
Pattern Recognition featuring works by Claudia Borfiga, Yumiko Glover and Julika Lackner is on view February 5 to March 22, 2021 at Sullivan Goss Gallery, 11 East Anapamu Street, Santa Barbara.