If they were music, her images would be scores; if texture,
they would be fine faded rugs or antique weavings; and if
films, they would be scissored strips laid out in rows in
the editing room.
But they are paintings, quiet, powerful, mostly large yet
strangely graceful. They are born from long hours of solitude
in the light-flooded Berkeley studio where Stephanie Weber
spends most of her days paintings and her evenings reflecting.
Weber always knew that she wanted to paint. In the 1960s she
studied at UCLA with Richard Diebenkorn, Elmer Bischoff and
Nathan Oliveira, all three figurative masters. Yet from the
very beginning of her career she has chosen abstraction as
her means of expression, resisting current fashions that favor
the conceptual, installations, photography and video art.
above to view works ]
Her paintings’ backgrounds are of honeycomb aluminium.The
aluminium is mostly painted over but on occasion she leaves
one or more strips bare, or sands in the color in semi-circular
movements so that some of the « sheen and toughness,
» in her words, » of the metal shines through.
Weber’s paintings are composed of series of vertical
or horizontal bands and broader fields of color .These range
from the earthy sienna, ocher, green and umber, to incandescent,
almost strident oranges and indigos, violets and yellows.
Colors are contained within the lines yet trespass these frontiers
and interact, melding within the eye, as sounds strummed on
a viola’s chords meld within the ear. Surface treatement
and media vary from one zone to the next : some areas are
rich and painterly, leaving brush strokes apparent and recalling
Diebenkorn’s « Ocean Park Series » or Oliveira’s
« Steles. » ,Others superpose a thin wash of oil
over acrylic, while some are flat, crisp and razor-edged.
Thin fragments of old aluminium-printed photographic plates
interspersed in the compositions whisper through the painting,
sending out a «crackly kind of energy » as Weber
put it. It is as if the modern world was suddently cutting
through a more ancient universe of geological strata or skin
Looking more closely,as if through a microscope, some parts
of the paintings seem to recede and others come forward when
thin layers of metal are applied over backgrounds. And adding
lateral movements to that subtle dance,some of the stripes
angle off, bend,stop before the edge of the painting or undulate
in curtains of color while minute, faint streaks of red or
green mark the edge of the rectangles.
Yet what could be a disparate patchwork possesses depth and
unity. As Weber described it: «Areas that are quite
distinct yet speak to one another.» These discordant
areas could be termed sensuality and logic,or inside and outside.
But like the alchemist or romantic poet, Weber knows how to
make ideas physical, weaving her worlds together into a radiant
-- Carole Naggar
George Billis Gallery
511 West 25 Street
Until May 6