By VITTORIA BENZINE April, 2020
Desperate times don’t necessarily call for desperate measures, but they do require thoughtful, creative solutions. While the world turns to art in an effort to cope with the fallout of mandatory isolation, artists like Méïr Srebriansky, have committed to sharing their work.
Srebriansky’s first New York City solo show, Age of Resin, opened on March 5th at 81 Leonard Gallery. However, as its press release states, the gallery is closed “In accordance with COVID-19 regulations.” 81 Leonard has contracted Eazel to offer of the exhibition during this troubling interim. "Experiencing the show on Eazel’s platform parallels the experience of being physically at 81 Leonard," says Account Manager Angie Phrasavath.
Srebriansky’s states that he “is an abstract painter based in New York City.” After graduating with a BFA from Strasbourg’s École nationale supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, his painting transitioned from realistic to abstract, after experimenting with a series of work that transformed figures inspire by French and American New Age cinema into shadowy auras. The artist’s biography explains that “reoccurring shapes, often derived from his figurative drawings, and colors, guide his labor-intensive process driven by popular culture, science, and the depths of his own imagination.” Srebriansky has “participated in residencies at Vermont Studio Center and Con Artist NYC.” He had a longstanding mural at the now-demolished Mes Hall in Mount Vernon, NY, and has also exhibited work internationally. Srebriansky’s current studio is located at Mana Contemporary in Jersey City.
While Srebriansky’s vivid work emanates activity evocative of joy, the artist’s career has withstood a significant share of strife. The press release for Age of Resin notes that this exhibition marks the end to his hiatus from painting, which he took “After a cataclysmic fire razed Srebriansky’s studio and destroyed his body of work.”
“Upon returning to his practice,” the statement continues, “Srebriansky experienced a strident shift in subjectivity and medium; the artist evolved his paintings beyond pigment and canvas to incorporate resin as a medium. The works on view in this exhibition represent epochs of this painterly investigation, notably a new series of tulip and tondo-style paintings, resin and mixed media paintings, and select works on paper.”
In an electronic interview with Whitehot Magazine, Srebiansky explained how his practice with multiple mediums lends his career a varied tempo. “I turn to drawing when I'm bored, or to process a stressful day and when I need to focus, but also when I'm happy and content,” Srebriansky wrote. “I have never had any creative blocks when it comes to drawing; when I put a pen to a page is always moves.”
“My relationship to painting, including my resin practice, is more complex,” he continued. “When I am in the zone I can paint for hours and I love it, however, completing a painting can be frustrating and takes a lot of trial and error, repainting, and reworking for me to be satisfied. To tell the truth, if a piece is in my studio I will most probably rework it until it leaves.”
Even experienced virtually, Age of Resin bursts with color and dimension. Srebriansky’s artistic talent shines through his ability to blend elements, most notably with Watermelon, a work of resin, epoxy, acrylic paint, and spray paint on wood. Watermelon imposes disembodied facets of fantastical cartoon characters against a backdrop that balances soft brushstrokes and heavily outlined patterns. The work’s hues bind the piece in an enrapturing harmony, unified by their collective electricity.
When isolated, the individual elements present in each of Srebriansky’s works don’t harken to pure aesthetic delight. They read imperfect, accidental. However, each piece as the whole provides a great deal of visual wonder; textures transcend the physical to produce a synesthesia viewers will feel on their tongues. The flowers Srebriansky presents throughout this series prove there’s beauty to be found in complex places.
“Srebriansky’s resin works appear to break the fourth wall, protruding from their two-dimensional frame with technical bravado,” the press release continues. Srebriansky himself wrote, “I treat resin as if it were paint. But with resin, I can do more. I magnify brushstrokes and play with elasticity, transparencies, and gloss. I liken the flowers that are completely new to my practice to large scale quick watercolor studies while more dimensional works like Walt's Wet Dream and Sploosh are more similar to think oil or acrylic paint strokes.”
As dexterity proves the artist’s predominant strength, the inclusion of a salon-style presentation of his paper works enriches Age of Resin with an additional dimension. The statement explains, “This cross-section reveals the subconscious and psychoanalytic musings of the artist through a fantastical variety of subject matter and narrative elements drawn from fact and fiction alike.”
Trained in the art of parsing subtleties, Srebriansky is equipped to find lessons in tragedy. The hiatus he entered following his studio fire provided the space to contemplate and face his artistic career head on. “I decided to focus 100% on my practice: show more, put myself out there, take risks, and experiment. In 2019, my work was included in eight exhibitions and shown at three art fairs. I still have insecurities but I don't let them infringe on my conviction to being an artist. Instead, I move them to the work itself, which makes my eye more critical,” he wrote.
In honoring the milestone of his first solo show in this world-renowned artistic center, Srebriansky also noted that he’s proud the event “is taking place at an artist-run space.” Founded in 2019, 81 Leonard Gallery “stimulates engagement in critical thinking and culture,” with a commitment to “promoting emerging artists,” according to the gallery.
While this innovative new space is shut down alongside the rest of society, enthusiasts can find solace in exploring this promising talent’s latest crop of confections. Srebriansky added,“words cannot express the sorrow I feel for the world right now.” Steeped in extreme human experience himself, perhaps time will witness paint filling in the gaps where words fail for Méir Srebrianksy. WM
Vittoria Benzine is a street art journalist and personal essayist based in Brooklyn, New York. Her affinity for counterculture and questioning has introduced her to exceptional artists and morally ambiguous characters alike. She values writing as a method of processing the world’s complexity. Send love letters to her via: @vittoriabenzine // email@example.com // vittoriabenzine.com
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