Arresting paintings and drawings by Aron Wiesenfeld
The oil paintings and charcoal drawings of San Diego based artist Aron Wiesenfeld depict the realms of the unconscious as an unceasing journey of self-discovery, of overcoming fear and doubt, of seeking a place to belong and answers to questions that seem to haunt his fragile characters while wandering into mysterious landscapes of unsettling beauty. Dark forests, foggy, snowy or muddy paths, desolate lands and heavy clouds reflect their inner world, as well as the hardship of a relentless quest towards an uncertain destination. Yet their strong belief in reaching what they pursue keeps them going on and on in the night, beyond the borders, through the dense forests and ruins of a past never to return, which have been keeping them captive for so long.
As all these emotions and struggles are natural, so is the scenery, with traces of ravaged architectural structures, man-built roads or abandoned houses rarely present in the works. It’s like they are literally in the middle of nowhere and may never escape the nothingness once they embrace it. Similarly, no specific time indicates when they are, only their youth suggests a transition, being in-between spaces, psychological states or rituals of life. And their childlike appearance evokes not only the lack of experience with the changes or personal tragedies they are going through, but also their vulnerability – the fact that most of the characters are young women further highlights this, as the artist explains in several interviews. Therefore, we know not when or where they are, nor who they are – shown from behind or too far to distinguish, with the faces hidden or partially revealed just enough to figure out the gender and age, the landscape becomes the contemplative ground for the viewer. And in this regard, Aron tends to emphasize certain elements to guide us in decoding the work, however, leaving the opportunity of co-creation – there are no clear narratives, only fragments that we can use and rearrange to continue or generate new stories.
Although fictional, a result of the artist’s own imagination, memories and dreams, the works feel familiar. And this is because the emotions are sincere and represent stages part of a reality we all share. But what may strike us even more is the double side of solitude, which fails to be only negative – linked to desperation and unhappiness – as we commonly perceive it, but rather liberating and empowering when trying to decipher who we are inside – the fact that the characters are alone confronting the unknown helps them make bold decisions and take risks so that they can always move forward. Somewhere, the artist reminds us that everything is just the perception of our senses, so in a way we are all alone.
Two images from the selection below are especially powerful – The Widow drawing, showing a mutilated woman laying her head on a tree stump, looking above and wearing a dress with the pattern of a fence – with her freedom forever lost but her gaze still hopeful, and the Border painting, one of the few to show more characters engaged in the same journey, an image of migration so vivid in the context of the ongoing refugee situation and debate.
Night Grove, oil on panel, 19 x 24 in. (2016)
Picnic, diptych, charcoal on paper, 25 x 40 in. (2016)
The Off Season, oil on linen, 26 x 33 in. (2016)
The Widow, graphite on paper, 9 x 7 in. (2015)
Captive, oil on canvas, 13 x 10 in. (2015)
Border, oil on canvas, 56.5 x 80 in. (2014)
Homecoming, oil on canvas, 26.5 x 34 in. (2014)
Images © Aron Wiesenfeld
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