Artists often speak of their work as if it can never be finished. It is a continuous series of questions, paint strokes, critiques and surrender. This process mirrors that of science as well. It is an eternal series of beginnings and ends, constant experiencing and experimenting and endless questions that demand answers.
For her latest solo exhibit at Anderson O’Brien Fine Art, A-Z + Light, Christina Narwicz strips down her palette as her new paintings take her on a journey away from saturated color paintings into the world of black and white – with a little color. But her exploration of art, nature and science remains.
In past exhibits, such as Treasure Island at AOB in 2016, Narwicz’s evolving work, her colorful paintings-all abstracted patterns and organic forms- continued to emphasize the elements “that we all react to without any conscious knowledge; the semiotics of our biological programming that is connected to all other things both living and inert in our universe.”
In her 2017 solo exhibit at Fred Simon Gallery, this writer noted that “Christina Narwicz is a painter inspired by this partnership and driven by a curiosity to create work that explores natural phenomenon much the way a scientist does.”
Consequently, her work took on the poetic aspect of science and in the process told a story through touch, movement, light and memory. As in the scientific process, the discovery, experimentation and culmination or reward in art is never-ending, a reality that remains as a major part of her aesthetic.
In A-Z + LightNarwicz continues to put trust in her intuition to channel a shared experience that hinges on our desire to continue to evolve while pining for the safety of our shared experience.
Narwicz offers the following example: “We are in the middle of fall. This fall is not like any other fall that ever was and like none that will ever be.” And, this is true. No matter how much we rely on the revolution of Earth and the time mechanisms we abide by, what nature decides in its routine means nothing for our expectations.
But even so, we imprint a pattern onto what fall is. We observe that the leaves change, the weather cools, and Starbucks now has Pumpkin Spice Lattes. Because that is how we experience fall. Our patterns are based off a collective memory and deeply felt experience. Fall is not a delineated time period when the axis of the Earth tilts like so. It might be to science, but it isn’t to us. We experience fall.
This ultra-sensitivity to that experience of nature is what drives scientists to continue to explore and ask questions – to not be satisfied with what has been done. Artists are like that, too.
Pushing herself to evolve, Narwicz discusses this series as being a challenge she imposed on herself to learn how to manage the removal of color. This would be a challenge of deploying the cerebral connections her abstract work incites with an intuitive process that doesn’t utilize the coded language of color.
Art has always made use of science in one way or another. Pigments and materials were made from insects, trees, eggs or fruit. Narwicz explains the inspiration for A-Z + Lightwas that black was created from the ashes of burnt bones and white from zinc ore and until light hits it, paint has no color at all.
That art is literally built from nature combined with its intangible quality of the way it impacts parts of our brain we may not completely understand. This is what makes the poetic connection between science and art so much more romanticized. We attempt-even in abstract work-to make recognizable images and narratives where they don’t exist, i.e., rippling water, honeycombs and bursting flowers seemed to want to arrange themself in pieces for the viewer.
But Narwicz says she was not inspired by particular examples of nature, which might explain why her work is generally “untitled.” It is, instead, the translation of this process of nature into a series of connections, memories and eternal questions that amplify her work.
There is a shared desire to feel like we are part of something larger than us, whether we seek it through science or spirituality, and at the same time a reminder that we are nearly grains of sand. The potential and futility live in us simultaneously and it is what makes explorers and creators alike evolve and thrive.
We are the beginnings and ends of cycles we don’t really see and we live through them by way of connections that touch the natural and cerebral world.
Like science, Narwicz and her work are part of a fluid process that keeps building on itself from literal experimentation, conceptual thought and the knowledge that nothing is every complete. This cycle is the process that we live with, create with and learn with.
A-Z + Light is on view through October 28 at Anderson O’Brien Fine art, 1108 Jackson Street. For more information, visit aobfineart.com or christinanarwicz.com.