Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
“Of Men and Flowers” Works by Serge Strosberg
West Palm Beach, FL March 25-May 3, 2009 “Of Men and Flowers” Works by Serge Strosberg will open at the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens. “After years of exploring identity, I've become more and more interested in the complexity of human relationships. It is an important part of the Comedie Humaine. The flower is much more than decorative; it can be a strong symbol of love, admiration or respect. For some, it is old fashioned and artificial but most people enjoy receiving flowers, especially a bouquet of roses. The natural beauty, perfume, variety, delicacy, lightness, ephemerous and unpredictable state can also suggest femininity (sometimes in a very sexual way with orchids). Flowers in a painting also indicate the presence of a man or a woman whether it is the person who gives or receives.”
“In this new series of 15 life-size contemporary expressionistic and realist portraits exhibited amidst the tropical gardens of the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens, with sincerity and a little touch of humor, to depict the effects or the expectations that flowers can induce in men and women.”
Strosberg, who last showed in south Florida in 2007 has become an international painter by definition. Born in Antwerp, Belgium, living and studying in Paris at the renowned L’Académie Julian, where luminaries Gauguin, Bonnard, Matisse, and Léger studied Stosberg now calls Manhattan his home. But his recent inclusion into 3 important shows in Paris and Germany support this idea of a truly international painter.
Spring 2008 Strosberg’s paintings were on view at the Museum Tavet-Delacou, Paris as part of a group show entitled “Expressionism and Humanism, the Human Figure and the Jewish Experience,” at the Museum of Pontoise. The exhibition included works by Soutine, Modigliani, Chagall, Alex Katz, Camille Pissarro, Lucian Freud, and others. Additional works where on exhibition at the Ecole de Medecin.
Arts Actualités Magazine, n° 162 May/June 2008, p. 84.
In conclusion of her review on the exhibition Human Expressionism, art critic Brigitte des Isles wrote:
At the turn of the 21st century, Serge Strosberg immortalizes a couple in an embrace, Tenderness (2007)... and paints a singular portrait, The Human Condition, a temporal and untemporal image of existence before the eternal void.
In Azart n° 32, May/June 2008, p. 120. by Charlotte Waligora: 'The contemporary section...
Represented by Freud, Ra'anan Levy and Serge Strosberg, has the power to suggest the continuity of a genre [humanistic figuration [and a major artistic preoccupation of our time.'
Additionally December –April 2009 Strosberg’s work will be in Die Verbogene Spur (The hidden roots) at Museum of Osnabruck in December 2008-April 2009 with Lucian Freud, Nan Goldin, Rebecca Horn, Richard Serra and many others, celebrating the 10 years of the Museum.
Strosberg followed in the footsteps of European artists Willem de Kooning and Gaston Lachaise, Belgian-born painter Serge Strosberg has adopted New York as his second home. When opening his first U.S. studio, he settled on Soho because of the constant activity on Broadway.
“New York inspires me,” Strosberg says. “I feel as if I’m living in a Hopper cityscape painting.” Strosberg chose to come to Manhattan because of the dynamic contemporary art scene, and after less than six months, Strosberg already feels like a New Yorker. “Americans and other nationalities blend in here very easily,” he says. “I always felt like an outsider, even in my country of birth, because of my black hair, dark skin and Sephardim heritage, in Paris I was often mistaken for an immigrant from North Africa.”
His sense of being an “outsider” is reflected in his paintings, which depict and seek to understand people from all walks of life: the seven-feet-tall bouncer; the Chinese actress who is at once open and ambivalent. His “Young Girl with Piercing” shows a pierced lesbian couple in a modern-day “Le Déjeuner sur L’hérbe” that would surely jolt Manet into the 21st century.
If portraiture captures not only the person but also the era, Strosberg has illustrated modern life in all its guises. Strosberg’s style has been characterized as a mix of expressionist and realist, outside the mainstream of the traditional British school of figurative portrait painting.
The eyes in his portraits reach out through the canvas and follow the viewer on their journey through the room. That his subjects show their private insecurities and flaws to us, the viewer, is a testament to Strosberg’s abilities as an artist. He explores the internal worlds of his subjects as if looking for a clue to his own.
“I’m searching for the soul. My work is intrusive. It goes beyond representation,” says Strosberg. “My objective is to capture the thoughts and feelings of my subjects in the moment. I’m interested in portraying their expression and translating it directly to the canvas.”
Painting is the road you take within yourself through another, until you spiritually embrace all that lives and moves in them,” says French art critic Jean-Louis Poitevin. “Looking at his [Strosberg’s] work, you must cover the same ground, and also set off on a voyage of discovery of the unknown person in front of you.”
Poitevin explains, “Serge’s interest in each individual pushes him to try to capture the maximum emotive power of the model without recourse to pictorial artifice, to unlikely poses or brusque gestures. In concentrating on a dense and compact look, he offers a view of the vastness of the other.”
Before deciding to become a painter, Strosberg was a chemist and uses his chemistry knowledge to great effect in mixing his pigments. In Europe, he had the opportunity to study with a well-known German craftsman, learning the skill that the old masters used, mixing oil with egg tempera and special dyes to create vivid pigments.
Strosberg traveled to Italy to obtain these dyes, and used this method to add a three-dimensional texture to his portraits. This technique brings a luminosity and animation to his subjects. The mixing of the dyes and pigments is a very physical process, whereby Strosberg crushes the pigments to the right consistency and folds them into the oil to create the proper viscosity. He is one of only a few artists in the world using this ancient method.
Spring 2008 Strosberg held his first New York exhibition “Sins of Paris,” (“Péchés de Paris”) and his “Métro” series. In these works, Strosberg experimented with storyboard-like, cinematography-oriented, narrative panels that explore socially relevant topics by using the same models in a progressive series. “Sins of Paris,” explores the seven deadly sins in a lively, colorful, seven-act montage, giving contemporary interpretations of pride, envy, gluttony, lust, wrath, greed, and sloth.
His paintings of scenes from the Paris métro convey his view of a contemporary, graffiti-covered, non-glamorized Paris, illustrating the loneliness and isolation of its citizens. In one frame we see what could be a self-portrait of the artist, a young man sits meditatively, his gaze lowered, his eyes half-closed caught alone in a private reverie, while in the other frames, he captures a sense of movement and a snapshot of everyday passengers as they travel to their destinations.
“I love to paint everyday New Yorkers,” Strosberg says, “such as janitors in uniform, policemen and taxi drivers.
The Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens, Inc. is a recognized 501 (c )(3) operating foundation established in 1977 by the prominent sculptor Ann Weaver Norton (1905-1982). The gardens are conveniently located at 253 Barcelona Road, at the corner of Flagler Drive in West Palm Beach, FL. The rare palm and sculpture gardens, exhibition galleries and artist studio are currently open Wednesday-Sunday. 11- 4 p.m. Admission for a Garden visit is $5 per person. Children under 12 free. For more information call 561.832.5328 or visit our website at www.ansg.org. The Sculpture Gardens is closed the month of August.