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By Anne Marie Cummings Special to the Journal
Many tend towards baffled skepticism when viewing abstract expressionistic paintings. The public sometimes feels gullible in terms of accepting the aesthetic confidence of this genre. Yet despite the sustained attacks from those who prefer representational art providing an immediate feeling, there is energy, often a magnificence of feeling that bursts forth from abstract expressionistic paintings. The artists who paint in this way do not see what you or I may see ; consciously, that is. The work is not particularly explicable, but clearly a surge from the unconscious – in other words, there is not always conscious control of what happens on the canvas. To connect, one must cooperate with the artist in order to be influenced.
Freedom of expression, from Barbara Mink’s large canvases displayed at Fibers on the Commons, is apparent in her brushstrokes, overlapping textures, varied use of colors, and her attempt to transfer pure emotion directly onto the canvas. But the role of the unconscious is what makes Mink’s paintings original, so original that she never repeats herself, not entirely. The unresolved pictorial nature of each painting is reminiscent of memories from a fictive world; each could continue on, spilling past the canvas if you allow yourself to be visually absorbed and pulled in. But overall, Mink’s large canvases are emblematic of life: good versus evil.
The fictive world which Mink creates is at its height in “Summer “; Here there is a feeling of fairies, butterflies, and otherworldliness, lightheartedness, a pureness of souls akin to what is found when entering the stories of children’s books. At the same time one may sense the exhilaration and ever-widening expanse from Dante Alighieri’s poem, Paradiso – a large sphere of angelic splendor.
In “Summer 2” again we enter a fictional world, but this time it’s a fiery summer of dragons and obtrusive creatures amid beauty that is a pervasive force. And in “Wedding Bouquet 1,” despite the joyousness blooming, there is once again a darker element that looms.
In “Landscape”; the clear-cut lines and heaviness of darker colors directly next to a sea of white suggest a force living and breathing, perhaps hidden, carving itself into an innocent world. In “Spring” Mink elicits her title while at the same time creating a journey similar to Alice in Wonderland – the pouring and dripping of pink paint turning into a downward collection of black, orange and dark blues, suggest an undercurrent of gutted surprises.
This undercurrent is more evident in her work not presented at Fibers on the Commons, but in her collection online at www.barbaramink.com. In “Teal”, “Blue”, “Nova” and”Blue/Red” harmony is juxtaposed with fire, hunger and great need, not unlike the ardent forces that eagerly capture the human spirit.