Time Being

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Passing Through (Sky Pape at Gilman Contemporary)
by Raine Kidder, SVPN Magazine, July 2018

Sky Pape at Gilman Contemporary Idaho 2018

Sky Pape Gilman Contemporary

Passing Through, by Raine Kidder for SVPN Magazine, July 2018

New York artist Sky Pape’s original works on paper are dynamic explosions of movement underlying a contemplation of form with geometric formations and gestural orbs of Sumi ink. Exhibiting this July at Gilman Contemporary, Pape experiments with traditional materials and pushes the boundaries of what those mediums can do.

Pape’s solo exhibition, Passing Through, features a compelling series of paintings reminiscent of the energetic movement of abstract expressionism and the dynamism of Frank Stella’s determined geometric shapes. Pape’s paintings explore the tension between the arrangement of colors on the surface and the optical effect of the advancing and receding forms. The pieces in the exhibition demonstrate Pape’s understanding of the material and subtle play of foreground and negative space that brings balance to the compositions. “We chose pieces that are great examples in terms of form, color, and technique. They work well together and represent the aesthetics Pape embraces throughout her entire body of work,” says gallery owner, L’Anne Gilman.

A native of Toronto now living in New York, Pape studied at Parsons School of Design in NYC and later pursued a career in neuroscience and spent many years researching topics such as schizophrenia, genetics, and brain injury. In a boundless pursuit of knowledge, Pape feels the creative expression of her art is possible through engaging with other disciplines. “I have a researcher’s heart and mind,” she says. Her research into how the brain functions and interprets the world around us is applicable to what she delves into in her visual language. Her natural curiosity enriches that perspective and she says that ambiguity intrigues her. “That state of not knowing, staying in that space long enough to see different answers instead of grasping at the first one, [inspires me],” reflects Pape.

Art is often born, manifested and propelled through experimentation and going against or ignoring the rules. Combining painting and drawing, Pape uses organic materials such as graphite, ink, water and paper as the foundation of her paintings. Her process is a constant study and development of unusual techniques and the relationship with the inherent physical properties of those materials.

Using non traditional tools, a palm frond for instance making calligraphic lines, creates a dialogue between the materials and the tools. The physicality and control of movement in her work, as represented in her larger pieces, and an understanding of the physical properties of the materials used is evident. The results can be seen in the tonalities and textures that highlight those materials.

Pape chooses to work on paper because of its organic quality and the irregularities of the surface. The paper’s texture–smooth or porous–becomes part of the work, not a passive setting. The paper, combined with the sensual texture of the Sumi ink absorbed into it, creates a tactile experience. The series featured in the exhibition at Gilman Contemporary is on hot-press watercolor paper which is extremely smooth, impacting the appearance of the ink. Adding the super color-rich, velvety matte of the Flashe, a vinyl-based paint with an intense opaque finish–Pape constructs the minimalist and restrained geometric forms of bright colors. Overlaid and entwined with the gestural strokes of ink, they burst forth, breaking free of the physical plane of the paper. Color does not dominate the space; rather the sweeping lines of ink integrate with the bold directions of the geometric shapes.

“Everything is in motion. We’re all just passing through. We stop. Look. Linger. Move on. Circle back and leave again.” – Sky Pape

Using non-traditional tools–homemade brushes and a palm frond (making calligraphic lines)–Pape creates a dialogue between her tools and materials. they physicality and control of movement in her work, as represented in her larger pieces, and an understanding of the physical properties of her materials is evident. The results can be seen in the tonalities and textures that highlight those materials.

In each series, Pape’s drawings and paintings are abstractions of form with a consistent thread. Working with organic materials can convey hints of natural elements, something familiarly representational. Pape’s work explores themes of ambiguity, mystery, continuity and shifting perception: how we, as conscience beings, integrate our perceptions of the physical world around us and our identities–dichotomies of chance and choice, how dissimilar entities interact, and what pushes against. Whether it is the material and the tools Pape uses or the inspiration behind the work, it is both mental and physical, sensual and intellectual. Pape’s work has been collected and exhibited in several museums including the Museum of Modern Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Brooklyn Museum of Art and the National Museum of Women in the Arts. However, for Pape success is defined on a personal level; on how the work is growing, and giving back to the artist community. “Living and working in New York and being part of a vibrant community of artist who are supportive and generous: to be a part of that accessibility, living a creative life and sharing art and knowledge, to shine a light on that path for those coming up [is success]” says Pape.

Sky Pape’s work can be seen this summer at Gilman Contemporary June 25 through July 27, 2018. Pape will be in attendance at the gallery opening Friday, July 6, during Gallery Walk, and is excited for her first exhibition in Sun Valley. Pape’s Aunt, Margery Friedlander, is a well-established artist living in the Valley. A printmaker, Friedlander has exhibited locally for years, participating in the annual Wood River Valley Studio Tour, the Ketchum Arts Festival, and numerous exhibitions at the Sun Valley Center for the Arts.

Changing the shape of Ketchum’s gallery scene for over a decade with forward exhibitions featuring innovative, nationally- and internationally-celebrated artists, Gilman Contemporary continues its mission with Sky Pape’s exhibition. “Pape is a natural fit into the Sun Valley art scene,” Gilman says. “The galleries here represent a variety of exceptional artists, many of whom are part of significant public and private collections. Pape is no exception and we are honored to exhibit her work here this summer.”

Passing Through
Sky Pape
June 25-July 27
Gilman Contemporary
661 Sun Valley Rd | Ketchum


SKY PAPE — June Kelly
Review by Doug McClemont, ARTnews Magazine, Volume 113, No. 2, Page 92

Sky Pape Time Being Series, "Cauldron"
“Cauldron,” Sumi ink, water, Flashe and gouache on paper. 72″h x 51-1/2″w, 2012 © Sky Pape

For her elegant exhibition “Time Being,” abstract artist Sky Pape created expressive works on paper using a combination of Sumi ink, water, gouache, and Flashe acrylic paint, applied with homemade brushes and palm fronds. The 2012–13 series shown here was based on Pape’s exploration of the figure eight, which, on its side, is the symbol for infinity. For the artist, it serves as a rich metaphor for the unpredictable, albeit poetic, flow of life.

Each black-and-gray curved pathway was also a never-ending Möbius strip. The 13 works, which ranged in size from 30 by 22 inches to 72 by 51-1/2 inches, were studies in graceful movement and serenity. Pape’s uneven, watered-down inky swirls were like two-dimensional representations of a contemplative dance. Her titles, such as Blue Yonder, Begin Anywhere, One Fine Day, Often On, Curled and Unfurled, and Solitary Walk, read like the diary entries of a transient everyman, each resounding with existential wisdom and enduring hope.

The strong physical presence of the familiar figure “8” dominating each creation was underscored and animated by areas of vibrant color, often in the “holes” or “eyes” of the image. Spaces were filled in with baby blue and framed by a magenta border, for example, or circles of orange and cerulean blue occupied the center of the loops. What might have become an exercise in austere abstraction was, in Pape’s hands, an example of expressive and lively art making, somehow celebratory yet born of a certain solemnity. In challenging the way we perceive the brushstroke—its nuance and limitless power—Pape makes painting seem that much more magical.