Monday, March 10, 2008

Abstracted in Nature: March 21-April 1, 2008

if ART
presents at
Gallery 80808/Vista Studios
808 Lady St., Columbia, S.C.

Reiner Mährlein – Silvia Rudolf – Laura Spong

March 21 – April 1, 2008

Artists’ Reception: Friday, March 21, 5 – 10 p.m.

For more information, contact Wim Roefs at if ART:
(803) 238-2351 –

For its March exhibition, if ART presents at Gallery 80808/Vista Studios Abstracted In Nature, featuring Columbia artist Laura Spong and German artists Reiner Mährlein and Silvia Rudolf. Spong will present a new series of her non-objective paintings. The work includes Good Report, Bad Report, No Report, a 2007 composite painting of 100 x 80 inches, consisting of 25 paintings of 20 x 16 inches each, arranged in a five-by-five grid. Rudolf will show non-objective and abstracted, figurative paintings and drawings. Mährlein will show large and small metal-and-granite sculptures as well as one-of-a-kind rust prints and embossings.

Mährlein (German, b. 1959) is a widely acclaimed artist in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate. He is part of a regular exchange between artists from Columbia and its German sister city, Kaiserslautern. Mährlein studied art in Nuremberg and at the prestigious Ecole Nationale Superieur de Beaux-Arts in Paris. He has created large, public sculptures throughout his home region and has exhibited widely throughout Europe. The medium for both of Mährlein’s art forms is granite and steel. Mährlein creates the prints by pressing rusty steel plates against paper and paper against granite surfaces. This results in abstract works with a rich and rough, three-dimensional and architectural feel.

Rudolf (German, b. 1957), who received her art education in Kaiserslautern, lived in Argentina between 1994 and 2000. There, she founded the artist group “transit.” In the past two years, she has lived in New York. Her work has been in solo and group exhibitions in Germany, the United States, Argentina and several other European and Latin American countries. Group shows include the first Biennale of Modern Art at the Museo de las Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Her solo shows include one at the Museos de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires.

Columbia, S.C., artist Laura Spong (b. 1926) is among South Carolina’s most prominent non-objective painters. In the past two years, Spong has further increased her reputation with four solo exhibitions, including a retrospective at the University of South Carolina’s McMaster Gallery. For her 2006 exhibition, Laura Spong at 80, Columbia’s if ART published a 32-page catalogue. In addition to the S.C. State Art Collection, Spong’s work was purchased recently by the Greenville (S.C.) County Museum of Art and the S.C. State Museum. Three of her paintings also are in the Contemporary Carolina Collection, which was established in 2008 at the Medical University of South Carolina’s Ashley River Tower in Charleston.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


Works by Laura Spong that were featured on the set of the Lifetime Network show Drop Dead Diva
My Wave Length, 2006
Oil on canvas, 40 x 30 in., $ 3,100

Duality Of The Heart, 1996, oil on canvas
58 x 96 in. (triptych)
Two outside panels: 58 x 24 in. each
Center panel: 58 x 48 in., $ 13, 500

Beyond Bias, 2008, oil on canvas, 36 x 36 in., $ 3,350

8 Squared, 2008, oil on canvas, 30 x 30 in., $ 2,350

Countdown to 10, 2008, oil on canvas, 36 x 36 in, $3,350

Murky Entrance, 2008, oil on canvas, 36 x 36 in., $ 3,350

Obscure Lamentation, 2007, oil on canvas
40 x 30 in., $ 3,100
Wind On The Highway, 2003
Oil on canvas, 58 x 48 in., $ 6,750

Still Screaming, 2007, oil on canvas
58 x 48 in, $6,750
Dispelling The Gloom, 2007, oil on canvas
36 x 36 in. $ 3,350

Almost Over, 2008, oil on canvas
20 x 16 in., $ 900

Monday, March 3, 2008

Essay: Laura Spong: Good Report, Bad Report, No Report

By Wim Roefs
March 2008

Laura Spong’s painting Good Report, Bad Report, No Report shows an artist in the prime of her artistic life – at age 82. The painting measures 100 x 80 inches and consists of a vertical grid of 25 paintings, hung in five rows of five. The painting shows the breadth of Spong’s artistic language, incorporating different pallets, forms, compositions and a wide range of marks. In the process, it also shows both the aesthetic variety and consistency in the painter’s work.

While Spong was working on the 25 paintings, she never thought about making them fit together, even though she meant for them to become one composite work. Yet, the pieces hang together beautifully, as if each was painted with the others in mind. The painting is evidence of a mature painter with a consistent, personal language that comes across regardless of her approach to individual pieces. This is true for Spong’s other work of the past few years, too.

“I always wanted to make a big painting without having to deal with a big canvas,” Spong says. “I thought that 58 x 48 inches was about as big a canvas I could handle. Once I started doing this, it was a lot of fun.”

Spong painted most of the panels in Good Report, Bad Report, No Report in the summer of 2007. She had no knowledge then of the pending cancer scare she would experience in the fall, though in hindsight she suspects the work anticipated the scare. “I operate on three levels,” she says, “the conscious, the sub-conscious and a third level. Even on a subconscious level, I think you still have some idea of what’s going on, but I really didn’t, even though I think now I suspected something.”

“When you are dealing with problems, every time you go to the doctor, even when you’re apprehensive, you think you’re fine, that you’re not scared and upset. Then you get the results, and even when they are positive, you realize that you’ve been scared to death. In hindsight, I think the painting is full of creatures. That’s what I am seeing in them.”

That Spong is seeing things in her work is remarkable. Here’s a painter who, only half-jokingly, would threaten to paint over her typically non-objective paintings if a viewer claimed to see representational elements in them. “I’ve always had a form in there that resembles the Easter Island heads,” Spong says. “I can detect that in my work as far back as I can see. But that’s all I could see. Now I am seeing all these things. I guess that after the fact I was looking for an emotional content in the work because I was dealing with emotional issues.”

“I came up with the title after I was through with the work and knew I had run into a new medical problem. The name covers the next five years, you know.”