Tonal Variations

Ron Morosan
July 2016

altMetabolic histories, 2015, oil, acrylic on canvas, 95 x 114 inches, photo by Tom Stock


alt2Vertebrae histories, 2015, oil, acrylic on canvas, 79 x 110 inches, photo by Tom Stock


alt4Migratory Continuo #5, 2015, oil on canvas, 48 x 65 inches, photo by Tom Stock


alt5Migratory Continuo #1, 2015, oil, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 60 inches, photo by Tom Stock


Artist PortfolioPaleo continuo, 2015, oil on canvas, 74 x 98 inches, photo by Greg Leshe

As I walked through Alison Weldʼs exhibition “Tonal Variations” at the Anita Shapolsky Foundation in Jim Thorpe, PA last Saturday, the title of Vassily Kandinskyʼs book “Concerning the Spiritual in Art” surfaced in my mind. What better example of what Kandinsky wrote about than Alisonʼs paintings. Here was a clear case of distinct “inner necessity” palpably present in each painting. These paintings have an inner resonance that I could grasp and feel. And, they were powerfully spiritual in the universal sense that Kandinsky alludes to.

At the same time there was another structural thing Alison was doing in the installation of these paintings. She installed four or five canvases together to assemble one distinct composition. For me this placement took on a conceptual sense in that the paintings assembled were from different time periods.

In addition to this conceptual arrangement there was another reference that I saw as traditional and, again, very spiritual. By grouping four or five works together, Alison has created a polyptych, a classical composition used in church altarpieces from the 14th century on. This is an intriguing re-purposing of a compositional context that was once employed with a spiritual message.

I know that Alison Weld worked as a professional curator for many years, along with maintaining her career as a painter. The artist as curator is a role she embraced naturally. In “Tonal Variations” each work is self-curated. With this multiple panel idea of composition within compositions Alison brings a daring new approach to the idea of the retrospective.

In the paintings on view at the Anita Shapolsky Foundation I found “Metabolic HIstories”, 2015, to be particularly striking. A large composition, 95 by 114 inches, its five panels physlcally churn with an almost conjuring intensity that deftly engages and embodies its title. It has a metabolism of multiplex content suggesting everything from prayer to rage. Its intense, thick brushwork seethes with expressive engagement as spirit and muse. No doubt, the primal creative urge is given voice in the material substance of the paint. In conversation with the artist, she said she was “now engaged with pure painting.”

I felt this statement rings true in this show. Perhaps the most important thing we can ask of artists is to tell their truths. Alison Weldʼs “pure painting” is her truth.

As the French psychologist Lacanʼs archetypal dictum has it: Truthful illusions are made truth when the artist believes them and makes them literal.

Belief is the beauty in art. Alison Weldʼs paintings confirm this.

Tonal Variations Alison Weld

July 9-August 14, 2016
The Anita Shapolsky Foundation
20 West Broadway, Jim Thorpe, PA 18229

Alison Weld




Comments are closed.