Breno Aragon, Prayer Lamp
Breno Aragon’s photography series “Prayer Lamp” explores the mystical and phenomenological aspects of the forest environment. Drawing inspiration from cinematography, lithography, and traditional landscape paintings, Aragon seeks to portray fantastic realities that are also allegories of mental states.
“These landscapes carry a dreamlike charge, a seductive tension between light and dark, soft and sharp that results in a dark, ghostly wonderland.” Early memories are are reconsidered in terms of light and color, while their emotional aspects provide a spiritual connection that informs and guides the artist’s work. Aragon views his artwork as an exploratory practice, not in search of answers, but as a way to evolve his questioning; most of all, to discover what to photograph next.
Born in Brazil, Breno Aragon spent his formative years traveling throughout North America, developing his senses and collecting the memories and experiences that would later influence his artwork. Although music was his first chosen medium he later began working as a photographer’s assistant, eventually taking photography classes at Estacio de Sa University in Rio de Janeiro while working towards a degree in Portuguese and English literature. With a desire to further his artistic ambitions, Aragon enrolled in Academy of Art University in 2009 and completed his MFA in Photography in 2012. Today he works in photography, translation, and music performance.
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Young-Ji Cha, Across California
Young-Ji Cha’s latest body of work represents the flowering of a seed that was planted long ago. “Across California” illustrates the artist’s view of nature as it has matured throughout her lifetime.
“An appreciation towards nature began to grow for me at a young age when my family started going camping along the coasts of Mendocino, California,” says Cha. “That was the time I started noticing nature and the peace that it can bring to everyone.” Highlighting the relationship between nature and the manmade, Cha considers architecture as a bridge between our lives and nature. What might seem a contrast by definition becomes a harmony through execution. Nature and structure are unified into a cohesive environment, an extension of the lives that make and shape the world around us.
Young-Ji Cha completed her BFA in Painting at Academy of Art University in 2014, where she received numerous awards for her work. She has participated in several group shows at local galleries, and has done commissioned work as well. “Across California” is her solo exhibition debut.
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Cannery Suite 108
Yi Shin (Nora) Chiang, Half Empty, Half Full
Nora Chiang’s “Half Empty, Half Full” is a portrait series that examines the critical moment when two opposing emotions coexist in competition, the depiction of an unresolved dilemma as revealed in the facial expression of someone paused at a turning point.
“This ambiguous moment is both optimistic and pessimistic at the same time,” explains Chiang. “There must be times in life when you hit a crossroads. Any kind of decision you make can change your life completely, but there would be no turning back once the choice has been made.” Chiang works exclusively with close friends and family, taking countless photos in preparation before executing a life-size study, then the final portrait. The figurative paintings represent earlier explorations of a similar theme in which ambiguity is expressed through the suggestion of motion, yet encompasses emotional ambivalence as well. Comparison of the two series provides insight into the maturing of the underlying concept.
Born and raised in Taiwan, Chiang always liked to put colors on paper but had no opportunities for formal art instruction before attending Academy of art University in 2006. Chiang began her studies in fine art but later switched to illustration, completing her BFA in 2010. Still feeling a need for more expressive capability, she returned to fine art studies and stayed on to achieve her MFA in Painting in 2014. Her diverse art education has inspired her with an urge to pass on what she has learned. “If I now have any change in my career, I would like to become a drawing teacher for K-12 students; and thus there would be more children to have the opportunities to learn and gain the skills they need in drawing and hopefully cultivate their knowledge of art.”
Chiang has received numerous awards and participated in several group shows in recent years. “Half Empty, Half Full” is her solo debut.
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Cannery Suite 110
Martin Aguilar, Before We Met
Placing shadowy figures in stark metaphorical settings, Martin Aguilar stays close to the center of the abstract/figurative spectrum, embracing the freedom of abstract painting while maintaining clearly representational subjects. Back for a return engagement at The Cannery, “Before We Met” picks up where his April exhibition left off. Focusing on the abstract human figure, Aguilar continues to explore his subject, where starkly limited palette and contrasting textures move beyond mere description and into the realm of examination.
“Painting fills me with a sense of accomplishment and integrity,” explains Aguilar. “I approach abstract painting with spontaneity, balancing form, color, and composition in my work.” Seeking above all to convey a sense of calm, the artist employs his figures in unconventional ways. Coalesced from layers of colors and varied textures, the figures are developed rather than drawn. Gestures are reduced to inclinations and movement is minimized into direction; the silhouette shapes quietly assert their form and solidity. Aguilar’s figures command a substantial presence, existing rather than doing, occupying as well as inhabiting their space, and revealing a steadfast insistence in their own validity.
Growing up in New Mexico’s bright landscape, Martin Aguilar developed an appreciation for color and light at an early age. Upon visiting San Francisco and discovering the abstract works of Hans Hoffmann and Richard Diebenkorn, he knew at once that he had found his new home and artistic niche. Aguilar completed his BFA in Painting and Drawing from Academy of Art University in 2010, while exhibiting in numerous group shows and auctions. His debut solo exhibit in April 2014 was part of Academy of Art University’s Emerging Artist Series.
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Cannery Suite 112
Agnieszka Bernastein, A Moral Code
At first glance we might be tempted to approach Agnieszka Bernstein’s “A Moral Code” in terms of traditional still life paintings, since they are composed of toys and everyday objects. Further consideration reveals a much more complex dynamic at work. While traditional still life remains calm and passive, these arrangements of toys and objects display an inner vitality that is anything but still.
“I don’t paint toys; I paint Ideas,” says Bernstein. “Unlike traditional still life paintings that depict banal, everyday objects, the toys in my paintings are actors on the stage of abstract concepts.” By suggesting the active potential in inanimate objects, Bernstein infuses them with life and purpose. Rather than highlighting only physical beauty, Bernstein looks deeper in search of narrative, as revealed in the nuanced arrangements where toys and everyday objects seem to spontaneously assert themselves through deliberate tableaux.
Born and raised in Poland, Agnieszka Bernstein moved to the United States in 2001. She recently completed her BFA in Illustration at Academy of Art University, and is now studying at Sadie Valerie Atelier in San Francisco. She pursues a career in fine art painting while working on a graphic novel.
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