My taste in art—especially painting and drawing, but also other mediums—tends towards the strange, the mutant, the science fictionesque. This isn’t because I hate nature, but rather because I feel that art should offer something else, a surrogate (as Jackson Pollock once famously said to Hans Hoffman, “I am nature”). This kind of stuff probably isn’t to everybody’s taste, but what the hell.
I’ve been interested in Nava Lubelski’s paintings for something like three years. They seemed a bit lightweight when I first discovered them at Boston’s OHT Gallery. They’ve grown on me since then and I think the pieces themselves have gotten less uneven. Her method is unusual. She stains and splatters her canvases with thin washes of ink and acrylic paint in different colors. She then hand-stitches thread (again in various colors), tracing the outlines of the stains and creating new patterns as well. Some her recent canvases even have holes in them; A Lie About Birds and Bees is an impressive example. The results are reminiscent of abstract expressionism, as well as the post ab-ex tradition of color field painting. They also evoke birds-eye views of landscape or snorkeling—favorite themes of mine. At their best, the canvases are fascinating, intricate things.
In her artist’s statement, Lubelski describes her process in terms foreign to those of the stereotypically masculine world of abstract expressionism. She describes her staining as “spoiling” and her stitching as “mending”. The pieces are meant to suggest a duality of accident or wildness versus care and precision. I’m not a woman, but I do find this approach congenial.
Lubelski is also the author of a book: The Starving Artist’s Way. I haven’t read it, but it appears to be a sort of bohemian do-it-yourself guide. Her website also features several drawings and mixed-media sculptures (my favorite).