By LORIEN SUÁREZ-KANERVA January 15, 2024
From December 10th until January 31st, Earth-Sea-Sky: Am Yisrael Chai, a curated exhibition by Peter Frank, encompasses Alison Hyman’s recent paintings on exhibition at the Slutzky Family Gallery in Irvine, California. Hyman’s ensemble of artworks weaves an abstract expressionist collection of small paintings alongside a running chronicle of the desert landscape she calls home.
For the last few years, I have been obsessed with LAND. The energy from it, the history of it, the people that have lived and walked through it. My favorite landscapes are the wild ones often untouched by the millennia or those steeped in history, like Glencoe in Scotland, the desert southwest where I live now, and particularly the land of Israel.
Hyman draws on a wealth of materials – gold and silver leaf, chrome paint, oil, acrylic, cold wax, and sand gathered from her home and travels, including Israel and Denmark. Found objects, including feathers, leaves, printed materials, as well as her own writing, are pasted and collaged, masked, and scraped into layers with either her bare hands or a palette knife. Through a labor-intensive layering process, the surfaces of many artworks acquire a substantive sculptural relief.
Fluidly and instinctively, I incorporate my historical fascination with buried objects. I embed sand, soil, and plant matter, write barely noticeable messages, small hints of images almost obscured -old peeling paint on a cemetery wall, remains of notices weathered on a bulletin board.
Like doorways, her materials open inner depths that reveal an exterior and interior journey beyond her lifetime to include her ancestors as a rich generational tapestry. Hyman’s intricate, deep-rooted compositions coalesce into idiosyncratic matrices of strata built up through a physical and emotive process that draws energy from its components.
In a process that reverses archeology, Hyman engages in an excavation into meaning while building up the growing complexity of the textural surface. The artist reveals and obscures materials as visual elements to build richly woven glimpses into a diversified field of gestures, that appear unconstrained and uncontrived through the softening of hard edges.
Hyman taught drawing and painting at city colleges in Glasgow and London and at Barlinnie Prison in an innovative art program with the most violent criminals. Jimmy Boyle, one of the convicts, became a professional sculptor, and other inmates became practicing artists due to the program. Hyman saw their desperation and how inmates found an emotional outlet and a means of creative expression.
Inner archeological digs, layers of materials and of being, non-human and human landscapes, contribute integral elements to her work. As Carl Jung observed, human development and evolution have an innate power of transformation where the psyche can re-arrange and re-create itself as a soul.
Given the worldwide wave of today’s travail, Hyman’s abstract expressionist investigations draw heavily from her own and her ancestral historical journeys. It’s also a universal human experience. Abstract Expressionism, at its inception, wrestled with the angst of the mid-twentieth-century war years. Hyman likewise wrestles with the complexities of being human within an inhuman existential reality.
I often wonder what stones would say if they could talk. What have they seen, what have they heard? I am communicating all the different layers of the land. Though geological, they are so much more than that. As layers of our history, religion, culture, architecture, and people–these are whispers from previous generations...survivors. Of persecution: holocaust, pogroms, and inquisition— layers of all our stories and interconnectedness. The sediments of my family history.
Inspired by the works of Willem and Elaine de Kooning, Frank Auerbach, Anselm Kiefer, and Frank Bowling, Hyman lays bare her singular bond with abstract expressionism through soulful grappling with materials and landscapes both inward and outwardly known. Her artworks eschew clarity and circumvent endeavors toward immediate understanding while drawing deeply from life and what’s inexpressible or incomprehensible within the psyche –individual and collective. WM
As a Geometric Abstract artist, Lorien Suárez-Kanerva explores the dynamic interplay of color, light, and geometric patterns found in nature and the cosmos. A Retrospective of Lorien’s work titled “Coalescing Geometries” won First Place in Non-Fiction at the 2019 International Latino Book Awards. She has exhibited in several curated solo and group shows in NYC, Los Angeles, and Miami. Her artwork appears at International Art Fairs and educational centers including Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton Museum of Art, and UC Berkeley’s Engineering Department. Lorien resides in Palm Desert, California.view all articles from this author