Artists create lexicons – brushstrokes, marks, scrapings, drips, motifs – and use them to create nonverbal “stories”. Viewers take pleasure in “reading” these visual art works.
Most of Debi Pendell’s recent works are investigations of semiotics, language, and meaning based in the format of landscape painting. Concentrating on abstract elements of recognizable shapes and characters in combination with materials and processes, Pendell plays with symbols of both visual art and language and how people “read” them and make meaning from them.
Letters, numbers, math equations and such are used abstractly, serving as value, texture, pattern and spatial indicators. Trees, birds, circles, and other images are also symbols. Actual space and the illusion of space are explored; created and thwarted. Viewers successfully combine the disparate imagery and find meaning in the gestalt of the combination.
Many viewers mistake these works for encaustic. But no wax is used, only acrylic gels and mediums. The main process of these works is collage, along with painting, drawing, and mixed media. Often viewers don’t recognize the collage because the process embeds the elements within layers of acrylic.
Not always landscape and not always thickly layered, Pendell’s work includes collage done in a more traditional fashion; the gluing of paper to paper and the “thingness” of everyday objects are clearly evident. The question explored is, “What does collage achieve that painting can’t?” The process of building with collage has a definite, unique impact.
Pendell states, “This work evolved from a spontaneous and unconscious convergence of several experimental directions. Only after the creation and exhibition of the works do I begin to understand what they might be about. Making art is wordless and viewing art is wordless. Once one talks or writes about a visual image it is changed into something else, and perhaps becomes locked in. Any absolute conclusion about an image robs it of its changeable aliveness and its power to continue to inform.”
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