Although the visual language of these two Californian artists could not be more different -- the brightly colored geometric abstractions by Charles Arnoldi a bold contrast to Natalie’s muted representational evocations of light and atmosphere -- the two share common threads in their investigative approach. Both enjoy conveying their creativity in series, encapsulating ideas and delving deep into their enquiry, painting several canvases of the same subject to fine-tune the aesthetic in question. Both are not shy to present their output in oversized scales, unabashedly captivating the viewer with patchworks of color or quotidian references, and both are equally deft at pivoting their magnitudes to smaller, more relatable sizes.
For decades, Charles has blurred the line between painting and sculpture, abstraction and representation. Early in his artistic career, Arnoldi painted sticks gathered from orchards or woodlands and arranged them into painted assemblages. These compositions would inform his acumen for linear, geometric and lyrical abstractions, all explorations in color, shape and structure inspired by nature and architecture. This exhibition will feature a new series of paintings resulting from a trip Charles took to Machu Picchu where he came across the carved stone architecture left behind by the Incas. He translates the imagery to blocks of color, some brighter than others, stacked on top of or against each other as they compete for space and prominence on the picture plane. Arnoldi has been widely exhibited in the U.S. and abroad and his work is in many notable collections including the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao; the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum in New York; the Los Angeles County Museum and the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.
Natalie also looks to nature and the man-made, and although her work is more representational, the paintings are ambiguous enough to allow the viewer to draw their own narrative. For Natalie, light sources are important, and her sense of perspectives with varying horizon lines adds to the disquietude in her work. The misty quality and dissolving forms render the scenes mysterious, almost dreamlike with their reduced palette. Dark blues, greys and blacks permeate her canvases, but surprisingly she rarely uses black pigments. Most of her blacks are derived from the use of a lot of colors which give the dark tonalities almost imperceptible variations.
This is the first time Natalie’s works are showcased in the gallery and the exhibition will feature her continued exploration of lightning, a series that came out of having witnessed a terrific electrical storm in Baja California. Her sense of scale is deliberate here, wanting to evoke our smallness against the elements in the dense atmosphere. Another set of imagery elicits the same overpowering effect, cresting giant wave paintings sourced from an avid pursuit, surfing. In a more ominous series, solitary great white sharks lurk in the waters’ depths, staring at the viewer with aplomb. This is not a random subject, for in addition to her artistic career (she has been a subject to over fifty exhibitions) Natalie is also currently pursuing a PhD in Marine Ecology at Stanford University.