Viajem, a collection of new paintings by renowned artist Kevin Tolman, will be on display April 21-May 14 at William Campbell Contemporary Art. An opening reception will be held Thursday, April 21, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. The show will feature nearly two-dozen paintings consisting of acrylic and mixed media on paper and canvas, many with elements of collage. Tolman’s abstract pieces present an array of organic lines, shapes, and patterns that rove delicately across the surface. At once independent and communal, the nonrepresentational elements and symbols create an indefinable sense of place.
Aptly titled Viajem (the Portuguese word for “voyage”), Tolman’s most recent body of work is largely informed by his time spent in Portugal where he was recently an artist-in-residence with the Obras Foundation. The region’s aesthetic influences include the colors, lines, and patterns found in manmade constructs such as architecture and marketplaces, as well as in the lush and abundant natural surroundings. He distills these down to their most rudimentary elements, extracting
their most potent visual essence, thereby making them universal. Tolman considers both the physical and historical strata that shape the geography as well, noting the remnants of recent and ancient cultures, including Phoenician, Celtic, Roman, and Moorish, among others. They are interspersed among layers of thriving natural matter, both overtaken and exposed, in an ongoing dialogue about the balance between nature and humankind.
Tolman takes inspiration from his explorations, and in turn, utilizes those ideas to embark on the very personal journey of creating. Seeking the freedom that comes with spontaneous mark making and composition, he begins each painting without any preliminary work, allowing the piece to evolve in real time. He remarks, “These works are created slowly in layer after layer, and it is by taking risks and paying attention to the chance circumstances that arise during this process that each piece is allowed to reveal its individual direction and character.”
Consequently, Tolman’s paintings are largely about process and the synergy generated on a cerebral-intuitive axis. “I love the process of working on these paintings,” he says. “The unplanned solutions, the finished works themselves, come about via the doing, the act of painting. The direction rises up out of making the work, and in the end, these pieces have their own voice, and reveal themselves if I listen.”