The characteristic that renders Silvana Ambar so impressive as a curator is her ability to attract internationally known artists who are either trained in the finest art academies in the world, or who have demonstrated such self-taught skill that they are credible to “show” with the pantheon of international artists whose work she has assembled.
Silvana Gallery is currently showing a group exhibition of traditional paintings and sculpture of great interest internationally, as well as a small collection of California plein-air paintings.
Broni Likomanov, born in Sofia, Bulgaria, studied at the National Academy of Theatre and Film Art, says, “Sculpting for me is telling a story where the human body is the main character.” This would be second nature for a man who has worked in the animation industry with icons like Disney and Universal for 20 years.
Silvana displays his bronze titled “The Act” (14"H x 4"W x 4"D), which is emblematic. It suggests a hollowed figure, mask in hand, in the act of either hiding or unmasking itself. It personifies the classical dramatic symbolism: happy mask, frowning mask. The viewer is left to conjure the story in progress behind the vacuous character. The options are endless and well inspired. Likomanov’s works are in private collections in the U.S., Netherlands, Belgium, Hungary, Canada and Bulgaria.
Armenian-born Samvel Lachikyan received his graduate degree from the Academy of Fine Arts in Yerevan. He has exhibited in numerous individual and group exhibitions all over the world. He has illustrated books by classic authors like Charles Dickens, Tolstoy, Mark Twain and Daniel Defoe. He transcends mastery of the watercolor medium in his work titled “Late October” (18" x 9") with a bird’s-eye view landscape that incites one’s senses. He accomplishes a “sfumato” or smoky atmospheric effect, which brings to mind wooded villages in classic tales.
This location could have been born out of the imagination of any one of the classical authors whose work Lachikyan has illustrated. In actuality this inspiration came to him outside his own window. The autumn version of this viewpoint is complemented by an equally stunning version of the same perspective in winter dress. Lachikyan painted the autumn version the day before a snowstorm, and the snowy alternative the following morning. Silvana hangs them just opposite each other in the gallery, which causes one to pause and ponder. The two paintings are beautiful companions.
Fongwei Liu is an extraordinary painter in the traditional figurative genre. He has earned a master of fine arts degree from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. His works stun the viewer and dominate the gallery with scale, color and brilliantly trapped subject matter. His oil painting titled “Before the Performance 2" (30" x 40") depicts a beautiful young dancer, in Middle Eastern-style dress, red pants and bare midriff, anticipating — in angst, prior to a performance. She is timeless and controls the canvas.
The background is designed to support her with splashes of complementary colors, staging to give sense of depth, and a structure of sorts, in the left background to give balance and interest to the composition. Fongwei has a gift for lighting, color and composition.
Silvana has assembled so many fine pieces for this exhibition that I am frustrated not to discuss more of them. Dali Higa is a brilliant self-taught painter who has developed a very successful confetti impressionism technique. Jennifer McChristian’s orange under paintings ignite her scenes. Many others deserve recognition as well.
TERRI MARTIN is an art historian, artist and art critic.
What: “Traditional Art: Great Impressions — Masters of Fine Art”
When: Continuing through Dec. 11
Where: Silvana Gallery of Fine Art and Crafts, 1731 W. Glenoaks Blvd., Suite 200 Glendale
Contact: (818) 662-7070 or e-mail email@example.com