SANDY BLEIFER: TEXTURALITY by Peter Frank, 2017
“Across her considerable career, Sandy Bleifer has addressed any number of themes and issues. Her engagement with personal, psychological, social, and even political matters is constant and unflagging; each series she generates focuses on a different concern, allowing her at one time to concentrate on her inner self and her experiences, at another time to consider how humans relate to one another, at yet another time to contemplate the beauty and fragility of the world.
But what has maintained steadily throughout Bleifer’s entire career has been her appreciation for and exploitation of material – principally, but not solely, paper.” Continued…
I have created artistic interpretations of my own Ikebana arrangements and, as I have done in much of my previous work in other subjects, revealed the distress that persistently undermines our aspirations of beauty and serenity. I think of these diptychs as “Memorials” because I have noticed the spontaneous collection of flowers, notes and memorabilia at sites of tragedy – and these roadside arrangements are as much a human response to loss as formal public memorials.
Ikebana I-A: Moribana – 5 Materials, 22-1/4″h x 30″w
Ikebana I-B: Photo Negative, 22-1/4″h x 30″w
Ikebana III-A: Heika – Slanting Style, 31″h x 23″w
Ikebana III-B: Bloodied, 34″h x 25″w
Ikebana V-A: Rimpa, 21-3/4″h x 31-1/2″w x 3″d
Ikebana V-B: Melt Down, 21-3/4″h x 10″w x 8″d
Ikebana XX-A: Rimpa, 21-3/4″h x 30-1/2″w x 4″d
Ikebana XX-B: Atomic Bomb, 21-3/4″h x 30-1/2″w x 4″d
Ikebana II-A: Moribana – Free Style, 22-1/4″h x 30″w
Ikebana II-B: Fireball, 29″h x 37″w
Ikebana IV-A: Landscape – Water Reflecting, 26-3/4″h x 29-3/4″w
Ikebana IV-B: Overgrown, 26-3/4″h x 29-3/4″w
Ikebana VI-A: Moribana – Contrasting Style, 22-1/4″h x 30″w
Ikebana VI-B: Collapsed at Sunset, 23-1/4″h x 30″w
Ikebana XXIII-A: Rising Form, 30″h x 22″w x 5″d
IIkebana XXIII-B: Pressed Flowers, 30″h x 22″w x 5″d
The Japanese Garden, Ikebana and Ikebana Memorials
This video documents a joint exhibition in my studio of my Ikebana Series alongside of the art, flower arrangements and landscape design of Kaz Kitajima, noted master of the Sogetsu School of Ikebana. The Japanese Garden presents a heightened sense of nature and Ikebana represents a highly refined representation of the beauty of flowers.
PAPER BECOMING TREE SERIES
“Paper Becoming Logs” is from a larger series called “Paper Becoming Tree.” It is a play on words as well as on the eyes. Bleifer has carefully manipulated different papers into tree-like forms. She does this through a variety of processes, silkscreening, painting, moulding, burning and even going so far as to bury the paper underground to give it some of the “life experiences” of real trees. The results are startlingly beautiful and realistic. The artist has managed to capture both the durable yet fragile nature of trees.
Catalog: Nature re(CONTAINED), Irvine Fine Arts Center, 1995
Paper Becoming Lumber, 1987, 2-3/4″h x 41″w x 2-3/4″d
Paper as a Metaphor for Trees
Paper is manipulated, formed and treated to replicate the formative processes of nature and to mimic the layering of bark on trees, calling attention to their common qualities and common origins. The series is a visual pun as it reverses the process by which paper is, in fact, produced from trees. The grain of truth in the joke is that trees can be made from paper because artists do recreate nature in their medium of choice. It is also true that a work of art becomes the metaphor for nature. My work deals with nature as subject and paper as subject. I explore the connections between the processes and essences of nature and the processes and essential qualities of paper, printmaking and the other media I use.
WALLS AND GRAFFITI SERIES
Sandy Bleifer sees walls as “urban canvases on which nature and man make their mark,” and her own works on paper not only as a medium for paper’s traditional role of communication but also, through their emotional impact, as a vehicle for understanding and change.
Predictions, Beckstrand Gallery, Palos Verdes Art Center, 1993
Walls XXXVI: Berlin Wall, 1991, 76″h x 128″w
Paper and the Urban Environment
The Walls Series has been sustained from the early ’80s through the ’90s, exploring the connections between my use of paper manipulation and treatment techniques and the aging of architectural surfaces. The Walls series evolved to multiple layers of paper both obscuring and revealing under layers. Paper is uniquely structured to express the nature of a wide variety of surfaces and to bear the effects of age and wear. As such, the Walls testify to the vulnerability and resilience of life itself.
Graffiti is an element of the urban landscape. A sub-text of the Walls Series has been the Graffiti pieces through which I acknowledge what I feel are legitimate folk art/calligraphy and social commentary despite the legal issues. Walls are our urban canvases on which nature and man make their marks. I began putting graffiti on my Walls pieces as just another form of “wear and tear,” not as a focus of the piece. I consider graffiti a form of signage like billboards and advertising posters. Both use artistic script and imagery and both convey a message to their target audience.
RIVER ROCKS SERIES
My work evolves from an inquiry into the nature of my materials, my working process, and the paper itself. What I learn from my media I use as a frame of reference for the real world. The pieces in the River Rocks series express some of the common ground shared by natural processes and my art-making methods.
North Regional Art Sampler, Century Gallery, 1988
River Rocks XVII: Transformations, 1989, 48″h x 144″w x 24″d
Paper as a Metaphor for River Rocks
I have always tried to find ways in which the drawing or printing and construction of a piece expresses the process of nature at work when making a representation of that subject. Hand made paper and the paper making process itself suggested a strong connection between the paper and the process of the formation of rocks. The process of casting a representation of rocks is parallel to the way rocks are actually formed in nature: i.e. rocks are fragments of mountains or earth that are “torn away” in smaller pieces (just like I did with pages of silkscreens) and, likewise, the landscape is reformed by compression and the extraction of water (just as paper is formed). This insight led to much elaboration on the relationship of hand made paper and silkscreened and art papers with the subject of rocks. In the River Rocks series, there is a thread of dialog about paper; its basic flat whiteness, the illusions it creates, its 3-dimensional presentation and its flat representation and its sculptural dimension against its negative impression.