February 18th, 2012 in Art, Art & Culture by Olga Zapisek
Some abstract artists do not contemplate over their choice of color when dipping their paintbrush before that swift, almost dance like movement of the wrist splatters monochromatic hues on the previously white canvas, creating a unique pattern. Such is not the case for Californian based painter Lori Hyland for whom the choice of color is a continuous dialogue between the painting and herself in an attempt of unveiling the symbolism of the world around her. She is a woman of allegory, telling tales through the dissection of her personal reality entwined with cultural, geographical, and astronomical influences.
Her paintings are lively, provocative, and expressionistic, full of bold colors and hidden intricacies that though hard to distinguish at times, speak volumes of the representation of the painting that one might not have singularized from the title of the work; one might even compare them to a jazz composition with its vibrant melodies of solo improvisational acts coming together into one great artistic work. In fact, a few of her paintings have been dedicated to such arrangements such as her Jazz lmprov painting, which if looked upon closely, seems to showcase guitar frets sticking out amongst other instruments as well as a slightly disorganized nature that can easily be attributed to solo acts. But her paintings are anything but disorganized- they're meticulously well thought out in terms of movement and pattern -and are a journey into the constantly changing realm that we live in; a manifestation of the truth.
With various exhibitions across the United States and Europe, including her recent exhibit during the Scope show in Miami, and demands for her artwork from galleries, it is hard to believe that the woman who enjoys singing the blues during her free time, only started painting professionally four to five years ago. Yet despite her limited time in the art world, Hyland has had years of classical training ranging from her time at the Pratt Institute to the School of Visual Art in New York, where she developed her basic skills into the ones that are visible today. And as her paintings continue to grow in structure and meaning, so does her education, for according to Hyland, an artist's enlightenment never ends, it merely begins from the moment one picks up the paintbrush.
GALO: For someone who only started painting four to five years ago, your polychromatic artwork is powerful and bold, creating an emotional rippling effect with each splash of color. Why did you choose this form of art (or did It choose you) and how did your Inclination toward painting first begin?
Lori Hyland: I see the world through color and that includes music as well. Color is seen in all forms of life; grey skies and deserts - all is color. Internal and external reality creates and evokes color. Painting is just an extension of my personal reality. Nothing is contrived; it just happens, although in a disciplined manner which is my nature and classical training.
GALO: Though abstract art is undeniably vibrant and a form of self-expression, there are many who are still astounded by it. What do you say to those who have a hard time understanding the abstract form?
LH: I suggest they look at art in all its forms and permutations. It does not necessarily need to be in a museum or gallery. One should look without judgment, bypassing the accepted mental roadblocks of what is good art or duplicates reality as the viewer perceives. Gradually, your eye will become informed, and what initially may seem inaccessible will become meaningful; if one persists, even the most abstract and impenetrable forms will gradually become meaningful
GALO: I read that you were first inspired by spirituality and then jazz music. Do you currently have a new Inspiration?
LH: Yes, and I'm glad you asked. I've recently been presented with hieroglyphics; brilliant, modern, and universally meaningful through all millennia and cultures. They were claimed to be rock-carvings millions of years in age. The title (of my recent series inspired by these]: Ancient Memories-Modem Expression.
GALO: Jazz Music is quite Improvisational at times and free flowing, so to speak, much like your art. Do you find yourself replicating the sounds on canvas- perhaps following the musical movements with your brush?
LH: In a way, I'm the "Jazz Artist as well, improvising with my "brush."
GALO: You've expressed that In order for you to become an artist, you immersed yourself In classical art as well as Its fundamentals. Why Is this of Importance for someone who wants to pursue an artistic profession?
LH: I believe in any pursuit, creative or professional, you learn the basics first - limitations, how to use the materials; once learned, you have the basic structure to be free.
GALO: You have quite the expertise In art education. You attended the prestigious Pratt Institute in New York as well as The School of Visual Arts. But your education didn't end there - you also studied with Japanese artist Koho Sensei. Tell us a bit about your training with her.
LH: Koho Sensei was Japanese-American. During the Second World War, all citizens of Japanese ancestry were dislocated from their homes and businesses (many whom resided in the U.S. for generations), and [were] sent to internment camps in isolated areas of the U.S. away from the west coast. Among the many learned and accomplished refugees was an expert in Sumi-E (a traditional form of Asian calligraphy and brush stroke). He taught her and he became an expert and taught for decades in N.Y. I was forced to draw bamboo for six months, until one day, students were allowed to work in any method of our choosing. At the conclusion of our lesson, I was given permission to become an abstract painter, which I have obviously honored.
GALO: I believe you had a hard time drawing In some of your classes when you went back to school to gain a foundation In art - you struggled as those around you whimsically, and without effort, applied vision to paper?
LH: Quite true that drawing was definitely a struggle while others around me worked with ease and facility. I worked my way through the first year of life drawing; learned and, at the end of the game, became somewhat proficient with drawing the human figure, but certainly not great. Incidentally, the worst students were the doctors. Medical anatomy is quite different than artistic anatomy.
GALO: You mentioned that though they excelled In their replication of the models, there was little to no passion In their work. Do you feel that an artist must bring their emotions into a painting In order for it to resonate in vivacity and veracity?
LH: The answer for me is quite simple. Do you want a technically perfect rendering or a piece of work imbued with emotion and vision? We as artists should not be striving for "technical perfection: but hopefully, for that moment of discovery after countless hours of struggle and investigation.
GALO: A lot of your jazz vision paintings such as Jazz lmprov or Gospel/Harlem with their multicolored geometrical shapes, If looked upon closely, resemble those of Instruments. In Jazz Improv for Instance, there seem to be guitar frets sticking out, while In the Gospel/Harlem painting In the left corner there is an existence of what resembles a tambourine. Was this done intentionally?
LH: It is not intentionally done - we all know of these instruments; [they're] a part of our culture. Artifacts appear randomly in the proper context such as a work of art centered on music of a certain genre.
GALO: You use an array of colors In most of your paintings. What is the reason for your choice of such a diverse color palette?
LH: No reason - as much else in my work, it appears and it is quite unconscious. That is not to say that I don't make choices along the way. I most definitely do. Usually, to correct a palette that is not visually appealing to me.
GALO: On your site you write that a great deal of your inspirations came from your travels In France. What specifically Inspired you there - was it the food, the sites, the culture, or perhaps the language and the people?
LH: The Gothic Cathedral, built millennia ago and maintaining a perfect integrity of spirit and wonders that to this day are architecturally, aesthetically, and scientifically complete. I find nothing in the western world as inspiring. I am ever mindful of their power that has greatly influenced my work.
GALO: I think In a previous Interview you mentioned you would never paint the external world, yet you have a whole series entitled Nature. Isn't that a bit contradictory?
LH: Nature, as all else, is filtered through my vision and sensibilities.
GALO: Why is it of utmost importance to you to do something that no one has done before In terms of subject matter in art?
LH: That is not exactly true. I look at lots of artists' work, and inevitably, when it comes to painting, it comes down to my vision - it just happens that way and many of us may be influenced by the same theme. For example, Jazz, with each one of us has a unique interpretation.
GALO: Would you say that your paintings, though abstract, are thematic?
LH: Yes. Look at the different themes on my website.
GALO: Can you share with us a story about one of your most recently completed paintings?
LH: It came out a blank slate of silver and I just chose not to mess around with it. It was complete.
GALO: Lately you participated in Scope Miami; prior to that you've been a participant of Art Basel. What in your opinion makes such art fairs important to not only artists, but those who are aficionados of the current art scene?
LH: Going back to what I said before, it's not only fun, but necessary to see what's going on in the art world. A brief glimpse can entirely change your vision.
GALO: What were your Impressions of the art featured at the fair?
LH: Very mixed. My principle observation (again referencing what I previously said) is: go back and learn your craft - the basics are essential.
GALO: A lot of your recent exhibitions have been In Florida or California. Do you plan on exhibiting In New York city anytime soon?
LH: I hope to. I'm a "California girl," but New York is my favorite place in the world.
GALO: What typically runs through your mind as you paint?
LH: A pretty blank: slate. Incidentally, while painting I usually listen to junk music, so I don't get involved, but I'm pretty sure it makes an impression at some unknown or inaccessible level.
GALO: Apparently, aside from painting, you also sing the blues. Can you tell us more about this? Is this more of a hobby of yours?
LH: It's definitely a hobby; finding it the most authentic of music, definitely from the heart.
GALO: I believe I read somewhere that you also have a degree in film-making? Have you thought about making an autobiographical documentary of yourself as an artist- a behind-the-scenes kind of montage?
LH: I do not have a degree in film-making. I made a poor first marriage choice to my first husband the summer after my undergraduate degree. I put all creative choices aside while helping him through medical residencies.
GALO: Besides the different art mediums, how do you spend your free time?
LH: I paint - it is my passion. I swim and love the ocean. I hang out with my four-legged kids (dogs and kitties) and read [during] every spare moment, especially the classics. Right now, I'm reading The Swerve ("On the Nature of Things") by the ancient Roman philosopher Poggio Bracciolini.
GALO: You're married to one of the most distinguished figures in the real estate world, Jeff Hyland. Is he supportive of your artwork? What was his reaction to this endeavor when you first proclaimed your passion for it?
LH: He went for it and is super supportive of my work. He's an architectural historian and writer and well familiar with the creative process. His mother was a painter and his dad a screenwriter. He's used to being in the milieu of creative people.
GALO: Do any of your beautiful pieces grace the walls of your home?
LH: My paintings are all over the place with a constant rotation with other artists' work that I love.
GALO: You've exhibited with various artists, including Philippe Benichou. Have any of the artists you've met during your showcases, prompted you to try something new- or perhaps have they Instilled a sense of admiration In you?
LH: I have great admiration for Philippe as well as the artists I exhibit [with]. They all teach me in one way or the other. It is essential that there is a dialogue between artists, either through their work or verbally.
GALO: What is the best advice you have been given as an artist?
LH: Carry pencils and a sketchbook everywhere and use it!
GALO: How do you hope to grow as an artist? In other words, what do you hope to achieve and cultivate in the coming years?
LH: It is said that to see the world, you learn to draw. Every new work: I commit to, I find another "essential" heretofore unknown, providing a "eureka" moment. It usually leads me to thinking, 'How did I not see that up until now?'