On opposite ends of town, the shimmery fluid abstractions crafted by locally based Lynne Golob Gelfman combine to create a large survey of the work from of one of Miami’s most interesting – though sometimes overlooked – painters.
Gelfman’s compositions, which can be found in a number of museums across the country including here in Miami, are references to the never-static natural environment that surrounds us -- but not literally. Through repetitive markings and variations of one color scheme within each frame, the paintings seem to flow and shift, reminiscent of waves, clouds and sand, in perpetual states of change and formation.
So the titles of the two exhibits up for the summer are more than appropriate: scapes at the Frost Museum of Art at FIU, and sand at the Alejandra von Hartz Gallery in Wynwood.
Because of the subtlety to these compositions, the slightest change in light or in viewing positioning can transform the dynamic of the whole piece, which becomes clear when visiting the FIU show, spread through two rooms on the top floor. This location allows for natural light to shine in from a roof sky-light during the day, especially in the second room where several large paintings that first appear sandy- and dusty-colored hang. But move in closer, step from side to side, and the metallic material that Gelfman has applied to these works make them glimmer and gain a luminescence that at first, from a distance, is imperceptible.
That gets to the essence of why Gelfman’s paintings are so seductive and engaging: they are about movement, color, patterning and illusion more than studies in representational landscapes. Unfortunately, artificial light is not as generous in allowing some of this detail to shine through, so it’s great that some of these works get that exposure.
The most recent works -- found in the dune series at the Frost -- are based on Gelfman’s trip through one of the most fascinating ecological and geological outposts in the world, the Lençois Maranhenses in northeastern Brazil. Covered in undulating, white sand dunes that are interrupted by turquoise lakes, there is virtually no vegetation in this strange amalgam of desert and water. The vistas are endless and -- thanks to natural forces such as wind -- the sand is always shifting; like them, the paintings leave the impression that they go on forever and simply won’t stand still. To underscore this idea of limitlessness, in many paintings Gelfman lets the paint drip over to the sides, a signature mark of hers.
Other works flow in a less horizontal movement and suggest aerial views of a landscape, a metropolis, or ruins. Such is the case in the first room at FIU, where a number of paintings were inspired by a trip to North Africa, a parched land dotted with remnants of numerous ancient civilizations. These feel more like excavations than reflections.
Gelfman has also been influenced by a Japanese aesthetic, which is apparent in how her use of muted colors leaves a contemplative residue; and her extensive time spent in South America. (She lived in Bogota, Colombia for a time.) But the New York native, a Columbia University MFA graduate and long-time teacher who has made Miami home, seems to be most impressed over time with the nature directly around her, particularly the action of the tides, waves and sand that she observes daily with early morning walks along Biscayne Bay near Old Cutler Road.