Human scale is an important aspect of Premonitions: New Paintings by Adam Wolpert at Quicksilver Mine Co. in Forestville. While the abstract imagery feels vast, at 5-foot by 4-foot the eight large canvases in the gallery are approachable in size. One can easily step into and engage with them visually. Four smaller, oil on paper works allow you to catch your breath with a more bite-size scale.
The body of work as a whole evokes dynamic energy fields. Strong and powerful, the opposing forces seem to keep seeking balance. What may appear as a wave of destruction, circles back as the surging life force of creation. The compositions also hover between abstract and representational. Are they macro views of the universe, perhaps the swirling cosmic gases of a distant nebula, or deep inner micro space of the life force in action on a cellular level?
They can also be seen as abstract conveyances of fleeting premonitions, as the exhibition title suggests. While visiting the artist in his studio, surrounded by meadow and forest, we discussed the meaning of premonitions. What came up then was that, more than just a “knowing before”, it is the tapping into the energy field of information—that which exists but has not yet been made manifest.
For Wolpert this is daily food for thought, in his life-work and in his artwork. As a co-founder of Occidental Arts and Ecology Center, where he lives and teaches, his primary concerns have to do with art, community and the land. As a result, his oeuvre tends to be imbued with deep ecology, which emphasizes the interdependent nature of all life, human and non-human, as well as the importance of the ecosystem and natural processes. Everything is connected to everything else.
This current body of work can stand very well on its own, and yet reflects a continuing evolution from his previous work. We can see where Wolpert has gleaned the abstract visual elements from his nature and landscape paintings—wind-stirred grasses, bits of blue sky revealed through branches, or the glint of sunlight from behind a cloud—and transformed them. In particular, these “premonitions” can be seen emerging from his Silent Circles, gold fish series, (2000). For example, in Premonition #1, Cradle of Light, the swimming fish have spun themselves into flying flecks of gold, brown, yellow and blue, creating a vortex that draws you into its depths and into another dimension.
The work is vested with a turbulent, but not chaotic, transformative energy, yielding an almost visceral response—the energetic surge of landscape formation. A rich surface quality is created with the oil colors on linen, and in close examination of the details can be seen the complex layering of hues, creating a dynamic woven tension.
The exhibition continues through May 22. Quicksilver Mine Co. is located at 6671 Front St., Forestville. Gallery hours are Thursday through Monday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call (707) 887-0799, or visit the Gallery website at www.quicksilvermineco.com.