Allyn Gallup Contemporary Art Presents “Transference: Our lives in France, Florida, New York, Japan: The Leslie Lerner Legacy”
Opening Reception is March 4, 6-8 p.m.
This exhibit explores the impact of Leslie Lerner’s life and art. Lerner, a beloved Ringling College faculty member who died in 2005, was a prolific creator with a wanderer’s restless spirit. The exhibit features works by Lerner, his colleague, Vicky Randall, his student, Amer Kobaslija, and his daughter, Natalie Lerner Pilar.
“Some artists create paintings. Lerner created worlds.”
—Sarasota Herald Tribune
(Sarasota, FL) Allyn Gallup Contemporary Art gallery presents “Transference: Our lives in France, Florida, New York, Japan: The Leslie Lerner Legacy,” an exhibition showcasing works by the former Ringling College of Art and Design faculty member Leslie Lerner, his colleague, Vicky Randall, his student Amer Kobaslija, and his daughter Natalie Lerner Pilar, March 4-31. The artist’s reception is Friday, March 4, 6-8 p.m. The gallery is at 1288 N. Palm Ave., Sarasota. For more information about this exhibit, call 941-366-2454 or visit www.allyngallup.com.
Leslie Lerner, a beloved Ringling College faculty member, was a prolific creator with a wanderer’s restless spirit. He sent recurring characters on enigmatic pilgrimages through the exotic landscapes of his paintings. By the time he died in 2005, Lerner’s work was collected by museums around the country, including the Corcoran Museum of Art, Arkansas Arts Center, Oakland Museum, and the Norton Museum of Art. As Sarasta Herald-Tribune arts writer Marty Fugate wrote in a 2011 review of his work: “Some artists create paintings. Lerner created worlds.”
Lerner came to artistic maturity amidst the 60s pop culture of San Francisco and the surreal stage sets of southern California. An installation artist, trained by abstractionist professors, Lerner found his voice in the narrative tales of his imaginary voyage, “My Life in France.” Inspired by the unreal quality and fantasy of a Watteau painting depicting an idyllic romp, Lerner began painting in a manner combining the lush use of paint, with a contemporary, slightly wacky, sensibility. The travels around the world of the artist’s protagonist, a boy forced to flee his native Holland during the Protestant riots of the 17th century, culminates in his return to Delft 20 years later where he recounts his adventures through exotic realms. In Lerner’s last body of work, this alter-ego’s “travels” are in America. According to the artist: “I have followed a narrative like a psychological thread that parallels my real experiences in a constructed fable, filled with morality plays, incidents, mysteries. I never want to explain it—I can’t. I paint it all in my American theme park.” Yet, this narrative really reflects the artist’s psychological, interior world.
Originally from Banjaluka in Bosnia, Amer Kobaslija fled his war-ravaged homeland in 1993, and arrived in refugee camps in Nuremberg, Germany. Later, he traveled to Düsseldorf, where he attended the Kunst Akademie. In 1997, Kobaslija was offered asylum by the United States. He immigrated to Florida and completed his Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Painting and Printmaking at Ringling College. In 2003, he went on to pursue a Master of Fine Arts degree in painting at Montclair State University in New Jersey. In 2005, Kobaslija was awarded a grant from the Joan Mitchell Foundation; the following year, he received a grant from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation. In 2013, Kobaslija was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship. Kobaslija’s works have been reviewed and printed in publications such as The New York Times, Art in America, ARTNews, Art & Antiques, New York Magazine, The Village Voice, New York Time Out, The New York Sun, The Florida Times Union, The San Francisco Chronicle, among others. Currently, Kobaslija teaches painting at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania and divides his time between New York City, Gettysburg, Florida and Switzerland.
Kobaslija’s obsessively realistic, richly detailed paintings often depict his own studio: a windowless, white room crammed with art paraphernalia. The works in this exhibit come from a series of seven bodies of work that Kobaslija has been developing over the course of the past 10 years: “Studio Paintings,” “Public Restrooms,” “The Road to Rossiniere,” “Dirty Dozen,” “One Hundred Views of Kesennuma,” “Miniatures,” and “Florida Diaries.” Of his “Studio” series, the artist says that making the studio his subject matter “gives the painter a myriad of possibilities of how to approach it, how to perceive and deal with it. When painted, everything that is a part of the particular studio’s iconography— painter’s tools, memorabilia, and all the other equally (in)significant bits and pieces of information being visually described—operate as windows, mental links into times and spaces that are of relevance to the artist, revealing themselves to the viewer’s eye, all at once. Perceived as such, the studio becomes a metaphorical reflection of the inner world of a painter, a visual diary, a chronicle of state of mind.”
A faculty member of Ringling College, sculptor Vicky Randall has been creating work in fabricated metals, stainless steel, and bronze for over 30 years. She is well known for her monumental sculptures in stainless steel, and her work is represented in public art installations and over 50 private collections in the U.S., UK and Germany. Her sculptures have been described as “majestic, lyrical and assertive of the space they occupy” and as “having the presence of a stele—a marker, delineating not only a place or boundary but a state of being.” The artist adds that, “I began my form-making with figurative work and have progressed to biomorphic abstractions. Still, I am drawn to the linear gesture of the human figure as it hints at the secrets of form and reveals movement.” Randall’s works are all titled “Clockworks” because clocks are “my attempt to understand and compile accounts about the nature of time. My artistic motivation is that of an inventor. Striving for simplicity, I demand harmony between the landscape and the cityscape with my forms.”
Natalie Pilar Lerner, who lives in York City, shows recent drawings that evoke the presence (or absence) of a person with the image of a ladder. “My drawings started with using the symbol of the ladder—a strict symbol of a pathway. In my mind these drawings serve as a passage to people I know who died to move on to some greater unknown,” she says.
“The artists’ styles and subject matter are all very different—but that’s the essence of the Lerner legacy,” says gallery owner Shelia Moore. “Leslie taught that you should take technique as far as possible, but always speak in your own artistic language. An artist who follows his footsteps won’t create an imitation of a Leslie Lerner painting. Their work will be unmistakably their own.”
About Allyn Gallup Contemporary Art
Allyn Gallup Contemporary Art was established in 1991. Since then, the gallery has earned the reputation as the leading place in southwest Florida to view contemporary art. The gallery’s collection includes paintings, sculptures, mixed-media assemblages, works on paper and prints by mid-career artists with well-established exhibition records. The gallery also occasionally showcases works by promising emerging artists. Visit www.allyngallup.com.