As the world has become a more uncertain space over the last year, many are looking inward.
The latest exhibition to open at Albany Center Gallery does just that, focusing on spiritual and natural forces. Called “Inner Spaces,” it features works from five regional artists who explore their relationship with the divine, with a higher power or a force in nature.
It opens with a twisting and twirling sculpture from Rita Papandrea that hangs from the ceiling. The black-coated material is a less calculated spider’s web, with riped and dangling lines, forming jagged shapes.
Nearby is a colorful work by Ya Li, titled “Nature – 3,” which features the sort of marbelized paint patterns one might see in the endsheets of an older book. Li uses this pattern, alternating bright and more muted colors, to create a Venn diagram-like effect.
“Tropical Storm,” a neighboring abstract work from Yeachin Tsai, reveals bursts of yellow, red and blue, all moving around a blank “eye” in the center of the canvas. The latter acts as a foil to the agitated movement of the former.
While Li’s and Tsai’s works are bright and seem to explore energy and spirituality through color, Simeon Youngmann explores the divine and perhaps his faith in it through shadows.
In “A Garment,” a figure is wrapped in a cloth that cascades down the rest of the canvas. Only the figure’s head can be seen popping out, and even then its mouth is covered. Its expression is meditative and it looks directly at the viewer.
Not too far away, another work from Youngmann draws the eye with a hyperrealistic foreground, juxtaposed with a shadowy background. Called “The Sixth Sorrow,” it’s one of the most striking pieces in “Inner Spaces,” featuring several people carrying a Jesus-like figure. This mournful group disappears into a bright and unrelentingly wavy sea. There is past and present pain in the work, reflecting on one of the most iconic scenes in Christianity.
The muted works of Arlene Baker offer up a different perspective on spirituality than the rest of the pieces in the exhibition. Created by pairing and pinning translucent silks together, the rectangular works in her “Silk Spaces” feature two shades neatly meeting one another in a straight line with tiny pins. While much is left to the viewer’s interpretation, there is something satisfying in the simplicity of the series.
One of her works is juxtaposed with a series of paintings by Li, whose titles combine natural elements with organs; “The Water of Kidney,” “The Fire of Heart,” “The Wood of Liver,” etc.
Each abstract piece showcases the tightknit relationship between humans and our environment, using vibrant shades and metallic hues.
Close to that series is an abstract from Tsai that balances dark and light, with rainbow-like swatches of color overlaid with black half-circles and swirls. The piece, called “The Myth of Zhuangzi,” has a fluid movement, making the eye travel across the canvas in waves.
With its introspective works, the exhibition speaks to this moment in time in a way that’s at times soothing and arresting.
“Inner Spaces” will be on view at the Albany Center Gallery through Nov. 6. The gallery is located at 488 Broadway, Suite 107, Albany, and hours are noon-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. Those who are unable to go to the gallery can see the exhibition on the gallery’s website. For more information visit albanycentergallery.org.