Art Forum
Natalie Alper
1108 Pine Street
December 18–January 25
Published, January 13, 2010

Natalie Alper, September #4, 2009, mixed media on iridescent ground on paper, 18 x 24"

Stimulated by science’s systems, the Boston-based artist Natalie Alper engages apparently neutral content that supports intensive creative interpretation: a kind of confident skepticism fusing multiple foci and indeterminate layering. Her drawings, which are worked on one at a time from start to finish, offer a specific, complex processing of paper, marking instruments, and inks. The fifteen “Energy Fields” in this exhibition invoke chaos theory, matter, and energy in flux, as well as conditions of causality and entropy related to physics. The hyperactive drawings’ connections to science—itself an inductive field—are a generative source for suggestive abstraction.

Dense fields vibrate to the point of appearing nearly mobile. The drawings’ iridescent interference grounds spawn coloristically nuanced backdrops for marks that destabilize perception of consistent presence or absence, inertia or momentum. Spatially intricate webs composed of thick and thin accumulations of mixed media—sometimes transparent, sometimes opaque—lend the work a weirdly selective luminosity, due to the refractive and reflective actions of the pieces’ mica-derived pigments.

Refusing predetermined results, the artist subverts open and closed systems, volume and void, materiality and immateriality. Her art divides into rectangular fields resembling spliced film, an interruption and resumption in action; in aggregate, it conjures Leonardo’s ineffable “Deluge” drawings. Alper’s works are closely informed by her own painting practice, in which a complementary expressivity is produced through graphite underpinning, as well as layering of metallic surfaces and slippery, negative webbing.

As 2010 begins, enthusiasm for drawing and its agency in sorting multiple conceptual stimuli appears alive and well. The medium’s ability to stake new territories for artists individually and collectively seems demonstrably re-excited. Alper’s “Energy Fields” should thicken the discourse.

Judith Tolnick Champa





Seraphin Gallery  l  Contemporary Philadelphia Art Gallery and Art Consultant 
1108 Pine St.  l  215-923-7000  l