Three Paths to Abstraction: Herbert, Leland, and Mode

Pinkney Herbert (b. 1954)
Fire Flower, 2005
Oil on canvas
36” x 25-1/2”
Courtesy the artist

(February 9 – March 16, 2006)

In his book Concerning the Spiritual in Art (1912), Wassily Kandinsky argued that color, along with other formal elements, such as line and shape, is a language that communicates to all—a language that is comparable to sounds and their evocative capacity. Though Kandinsky’s argument was radical by early twentieth-century standards, the survival of abstraction as a viable mode of visual communication affirms its universality.

As the centennial anniversary of abstraction (especially, non-objective painting) approaches, the celebration—and exhibition—of this mode of expression is appropriate.  Three Tennessee artists who have demonstrated a life-long commitment to non-representational work will participate in Three Paths to Abstraction—Whitney Leland (Knoxville), Carol Mode (Nashville), and Pinkney Herbert (Memphis).

Utilizing a fluid, gestural approach, Whitney Leland creates spatial arrangements of brightly colored, overlapping forms that simultaneously elicit a sense of chaotic rhythm and organic order.  Exploring the properties of space in nature, Carol Mode layers seemingly familiar shapes and forms, creating planes—or topographies—that reference a specific time and place in her life. Recently, Mode’s work reflects influences that include astronomy, weather, the often unseen worlds found beneath the ocean, and to water itself.  Drawing from his own memories and referencing world events, Pinkney Herbert investigates both the destructive and transformative qualities of fire with bold, expressive lines and intense, evocative colors.