Fleisher/Ollman Gallery

House of Escaping Forms

Sarah Gamble: Vibraspace
Jennifer Levonian: Shake Out Your Cloth

February 5–March 26, 2016
Reception: Friday, February 5, 6–8pm

Fleisher/Ollman is pleased to announce two solo exhibitions featuring new work by Sarah Gamble and Jennifer Levonian. While different conceptually and in their chosen media, the artists make for an interesting pairing as they each explore the bookends of the human psyche. If Gamble plumbs the unconscious realm of dreams and self-created mythological worlds occupied by a range of strange characters and foreboding landscapes, Levonian delves into the quotidian where the mundane is transformed into the fantastical, or at the very least, the hilarious.

Gamble's new paintings on paper and canvas are marked by her trademark synthesis of patterned abstraction and representation where narrative cohesion is suggested but always just out of reach. Gamble disguises, obliterates, or discombobulates the glimmers of reality that appear ever so briefly in her work. Eyes, hints of bodies, and faces hide behind veils of pattern or painted fur. Gamble's art always leads us to wonder whether she is experimenting with new modes of abstraction (obscuring portraits, say, with furry brushstrokes) or new ways of depicting the imaginary (never mind abstraction—this is fur, and these are non-human creatures). Adding to this notion of layering and obfuscation, Gamble also presents several collages for the first time in depth, an experiment started on an artist residency in Roswell, New Mexico, 2013–2014. Echoing her affinity for painted crystalline patterns, her collage technique incorporates the use of both paper and foam core painting pallets cut into shard-like shapes and adhered to both paper and canvas supports. The foam core-collaged shards resemble broken ceramics, or perhaps the dessicated skins of paint, and give these new works a sculptural sensibility adding a level of topographic density.

Working in cut-paper animation, Jennifer Levonian engages with everyday life by focusing on events that often go unnoticed, transforming them into humorously bizarre narratives. Painstakingly crafted from hundreds of individual watercolors, her stop-motion animations often feature a protagonist trying to break free from social rituals and cliches. In the exhibition Shake Out Your Cloth, Levonian presents a new animation entitled Xylophone as well as quilts and watercolors loosely inspired by the animated film. Xylophone relays a story of a pregnant woman who frees a goat from a petting zoo who then both "go on a madcap romp through the neighborhood," as Levonian explains. The female protagonist of Xylophone is a quilter and Levonian has made a group of three quilts that take on the role of real-life props for the animation. To some degree, all of the quilts explore the theme of entrapment/escape and each quilt square resembles the animation frames that are the building blocks of Levonian's primary artistic practice. Levonian will also present a third body of work featuring watercolor drawings based on in-between scenes that do not appear in Xylophone.

Sarah Gamble lives and works in Philadelphia. She has exhibited at Philadelphia venues such as Moore College of Art and Design, Philadelphia Art Alliance, Fleisher Art Memorial, and Fleisher/Ollman. Gamble has shown elsewhere including Edward Thorp Gallery, New York; Abington Art Center, Abington, PA; John H. Baker Gallery, West Chester University, West Chester, PA; and Adams and Ollman, Portland, OR. She received a BFA from the Corcoran School of Art and an MFA from the University of Pennsylvania. In 2009, Gamble was awarded a Pew Fellowship in the Arts. Residencies include Millay Colony for the Arts, Austerlitz, NY; Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, Omaha, NE; Atlantic Center for the Arts, New Smyrna Beach, FL; Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, VT; and Roswell Artist in Residence Program, Roswell, NM.

Jennifer Levonian lives and works in Philadelphia. Her work has been exhibited at venues including Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibits; National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.; Sarah Lawrence College, New York; Exit Art, New York; the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia; Sante Fe Art Institute, NM; Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, PA; Fleisher/Ollman, Philadelphia; and Adams and Ollman, Portland, OR, among others. Levonian has been a resident at Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Omaha, NE; Atlantic Center for the Arts, New Smyrna Beach, FL; Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Skowhegan, ME; and the Millay Colony for the Arts, Austerlitz, NY. She received her BA from The College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia, and her MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence. In 2009, she was awarded a Pew Fellowship in the Arts.