FEBRUARY 2017: ARTIST OF THE MONTH
OLIVIER J-P KPOGNON
Olivier J-P Kpognon is an international lifestyle photographer and founder of O & Co. Media Group, a full-service photography, film and design studio launched in 2003.
Born in Belgium of a French mother and a Beninese Father and raised in the Washington DC area, Olivier developed a keen appreciation for international travel, style, design and the arts. Since launching his company, he has traveled throughout the United States and around the world – using his talents and expertise to capture his clients’ most memorable moments.
He has a formidable reputation among both his peers and clients for his exceptional creativity, talent and professionalism. He is an active and longstanding member of Wedding and Portrait Photographers International (WPPI) & Professional Photographers of America (PPA). Olivier’s work is regularly published in bridal magazines such as Destination I Do and World Bride Magazine. In 2012, Olivier was distinguished as the Entrepreneur of the Year from the Westchester and Greater Connecticut Chapter of the National Black MBA Association.
The company’s client list includes multinational corporations such as GE, Boehringer Ingelheim, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, Diageo, UBS and Kraft Foods. Olivier is proud of his work and relationships with local small businesses in his community and teaches photography to high school students. He was the official photographer for Fred’s Team representing the internationally-renown Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; the second largest team in the annual New York City Marathon. His company also serves private clients providing services that include portraits, families, and special events such as weddings.
Olivier credits his success to his willingness to leave a 10-year corporate finance career in commercial banking to pursue his passion. His advice to all is; “know you can follow your passion, finding your passion is key: talent, alone, is not enough and, if you do what you’re passionate about, you will be more motivated to succeed.” One of is his favorite quotes is, “I love what I do and I do what I love.”
Q&A with Olivier J-P Kpognon
How would you describe your artwork/style?
My artwork/style is photojournalistic or documentary as shown in my latest photo exhibit “How We See You”
What medium do you work in?
I work in digital imagery
What is your process like?
My process is both spontaneous and calculated as I search for inspiration and potential subjects.
What inspires you?
Life inspires me. Anything can inspire me: people, places, colors and events.
Can you tell me more about leaving the Finance field and starting O &Co. Media Group. What was that process like? What motivated the shift?
I voluntarily left my corporate life to try my hand at a career in photography because it was my passion. When I discovered that others where making a living from it, particularly the photographer that I was sub-contracting for, I gave my resignation. I created a website of my work and advertised my company on a very popular wedding web portal site to get exposure. Additional personal reasons motivated the shift such as the influence of my mother who was an artist.
You have worked with many notable clients. Are there some projects that stand out to you that you’d like to share about?
I have worked with many clients in settings all around the world. Most notably Nicole Garwood of Garwood Events for the grand opening of the Temenos Golf Club. That opening was a weeklong event in the beautiful country of Anguilla with star-studded celebrities.
In your opinion, how is wedding photography different from regular photography?
Wedding photography differs in the sense that it combines many different types of photography into one event: product, portrait, landscape, flash and nighttime photography among others. Add to the fact that you are photographing a very emotional day with many people in a short amount of time, under changing lighting conditions with no room for errors.
How do you think you’ve changed or developed as an artist?
I shoot more from my heart and think less about the technical since I know what I’m doing. I have increased my level of confidence over the years which helps me to connect with my subject.
Can you tell me a bit about your work in the “How we see you” exhibition?
The “How We See You” exhibition is a collection of street images I took in Bamako, Mali portraying everyday women and life in this capital city.
Why were you interested in participating in this show?
I wanted to portray women of color in a positive light. I also wanted to highlight the beauty of daily scenes in Africa in my own way.
What are some topics you addressed in your artist talk?
I discussed what I believe is a women’s strengths, love, work and superior intellect and show how women are thriving in challenging contexts.
Any additional information or upcoming events you’d like to share?
I am planning several photography events this month in CT and currently working on funding a trip for a coffee table book called “54” showcasing life in the 54 African countries.
JANUARY 2017: ORGANIZATION OF THE MONTH
THE SCHELFHAUDT GALLERY
This month Gallery Director Peter Konsterlie shared about the Schelfhaudt Gallery, their upcoming exhibition,and talks with artists about their panel discussion during the 2016 Bridgeport Art Trail.
About the Schelfaudt Gallery
The ABC Gallery, which originally opened in 1968 at the Arnold Bernhard Center, has a terrific history of commitment to its local community and the Arts. The gallery has featured some of the most important artists in American art from Robert Motherwell to Red Grooms, Louise Nevelson, and Alice Neel. In October 2012, The University of Bridgeport changed the gallery’s name to the Schelfhaudt Gallery, in honor of Peter Schelfhaudt, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the advertising firm Creative Partners. Mr. Schelfhaudt’s gift to UB supports the gallery, through exhibitions and visiting-artist programs, the Arnold Bernhard Center and to the great benefit of the University and the surrounding community. Artists provide unique insight into the human experience, reflect society, expose its humanity, and ideally lead and inspire. I am pleased to support the University’s commitment to resurrecting the vitality of the Arnold Bernhard Center so that students and the local community can enjoy and participate in the arts.
The Schelfhaudt Gallery is one of the largest and prestigious galleries of the Fairfield area, boasting of more than 3500 square feet of exhibition space. Based in the newly renovated Shintaro Akatsu School of Design on the University of Bridgeport Campus, it stands as a high watermark of creative thought and design. The gallery’s mission statement is to showcase mid-career and emerging professional artists for cultural and educational experiences. Located by the beautiful shoreline of Long Island Sound, it is an oasis for culture and the arts.
About the Reality of Abstraction exhibit and Panel Discussion
Abstract art has had a wide birth of creation. Hard-edged and painterly brush strokes permeate the gallery with colorful expression. The exhibition consists of paintings, and sculptures looking through the lenses of nonobjective imagery. The exhibition is a great sampling of what today’s contemporary artists are doing.
Curated by Peter Konsterlie.
Featured artists include: Cat Balco, Mike Childs, Rob Fischer, Chris Mercier, Anne Sherwood Pundyk, David Rich, Vincent Verrillo, Cecilia Whittaker-Doe, Becky Yazdan
Notes on the Reality of Abstraction Panel Discussion November 2016
Konsterlie: How much Do you identify with Abstract Expressionists?
Anne Sherwood Pundyk I have always identified strongly with the Abstract Expressionists, even when I was working figuratively. I admire their commitment to bringing an introspective mode and a formal radicalism to American painting. Clyfford Still’s work especially appeals to me now because of his spare pictorial language that relies on flat, irregular expanses of color. His work seems to refer to dry, western or even lunar landscapes, but also evokes the realm of sensation and skin. I just reviewed the recent landmark Abstract Expressionist exhibition at the Royal Academy in London. Here is a link to my review: http://www.artcritical.com/2016/11/05/anne-sherwood-pundyk-on-abstract-expressionism/
David Rich About 29%. (joke) When I was in high school, a major show of Willem de Kooning made a big impact on me for the combination of improvisation and cohesiveness. I also loved Philip Guston, both for the density of his work, and later for his impatience with how abstract expressionism had settled into a too-predictable genre. Remember that by the 1950’s there was a lot of very derivative and mannered abstract expressionist painting. The movement carries a lot of historical baggage, including assumptions about universals, of which many of us today are skeptical.
Cecilia Whittaker-Doe I identify with the gesture of their work; that meaning and energy can be encompassed in the gesture of a brushstroke. I think it’s a generous way to communicate through paint in that it requires the artist to believe that the action of their efforts will carry their knowledge and experience. In my own work I use various technique and feel that I can draw upon the findings of others before me. I love being an image maker first and foremost, and believe the image is arrived at both physically on the paintings surface, and visually for the viewer.
Cat Balco hindered by the bravado of Ab. Ex. William deKooning,
Vincent Verrillo I like the Ab. Ex. Emotional impact.
Becky Yazdan There is something incredibly seductive about Abstract Expressionism. The emotion, the materials, the grand scale… The stories of de Kooning, Pollock and Rothko hanging out at Cedar Tavern haunted me while I was studying at the New York Studio School on 8th St. Ultimately, though I think some of them took themselves too seriously and the massive scale was so tied up in machismo which was a turn-off.
Konsterlie: Who are your influences?
Anne Sherwood Pundyk I love the work of the post-impressionist painter Edouard Manet for both the magic of his paint handling and the way he challenged narrative conventions. Modern and contemporary painters I admire include Matisse, Joan Mitchell, Helen Frankenthaler and Alan Shields, but also the color and light installations of James Turrell, the activist work of Suzanne Lacy and modern dancers such as Merce Cunningham. The work that I’m doing now brings together the essence of my interest in traditional painting with movement, dance and gesture. I am not making a window into another space the way a painting typically works, but bringing the space in my work out to envelop my audience. I want them to be the subject of my paintings.
David Rich Elizabeth Murray, Philip Guston, Amy Sillman, Thomas Nozkowski, and others who don’t necessarily look like each other, but who bring a restless inquiry to finding what the next painting needs to be.
Cecilia Whittaker-Doe I have influences of course from art history –Burchfield, Bourgeios, O’Keeffe, Degas, El Greco, Chagall, Emile Nolde and his contemporaries. I also have worked with a few artists who had a great impact on me. In the late 80’s, working at Tallix Art Foundry, I had the opportunity to work along side Nance Graves. She was building tree – like forms by welding all kinds of cast objects together – fans, exotic looking vegetables and fruits she found in New York City’s China Town. I assisted her in applying patina onto the finished sculptures. I also worked on a Bill Tucker sculpture, one of the large cast bronze rock – like forms. I liked the way both artists combined aspects of our human form and our natural environment in their work, and in very different ways from each other.
Cat Balco “My influences change all the time, Judy Ledgerwood, Gary Stephan, Stephanie Mann,
Vincent Verrillo El Greco was an influence. Purple and blacks, Hans Hoffman, Jackson Pollock,
Becky Yazdan Alice Neel, Matisse (turtle painting), Gustave Courbet’s Burial at Ornans), Philip Guston’s late work, Nozcowski, Forest Bess
Konsterlie: What do you think about Terry Winters, Bill Jensen, and Joanne Greenbaum’s work?
David Rich: I’ve enjoyed quality time with works by all three. One thing that often strikes me about Terry Winters is that a painting might have a seemingly-simple first read, perhaps two or three main color chords, and after a while the presence of a small amount of a fourth or fifth tone, one that wouldn’t seem to fit, influences the tonality of the whole painting, giving it a slightly dissonant buzz.
Becky Yazdan I studied with Bill Jensen in grad school and he was very influential on my work. He taught me about “getting out of the painting’s way” and allowing the content to emerge rather than forcing your will on the painting. He helped me see that painting is not about fixing things.
Konsterlie: Who are the important abstract painters working today?
David Rich I’m interested in Mark Bradford, and agree that Jackie Saccoccio and Gary Stephan are also relevant.
Cecilia Whittaker-Doe I like Jackie Saccoccio’s work. She seems to be able to be very free with the paint and also go back into the paintings without losing the immediacy in the work. “Abstract” is difficult to define when talking about artists. I think it’s really fluid. Louise Fishman, Margaret Evangeline, Merlin James (encompassing a very “fluid” definition of “abstract”) and Charline von Heyl.
Becky Yazdan Nozkowksi, Amy Sillman, Jonathan Lasker, Bill Jensen, Chris Martin
Anne Sherwood Pundyk I am especially taken right now with Katherina Grosse is an important German contemporary painter who creates painting installations and works on different supports, including abandoned houses and piles of dirt. What comes through is her excitement about color and movement. There is an almost disposable feel to her works, but they are grounded in an appreciation of modern painting.
Konsterlie: Does “collage” play a role in development in your composition.
David Rich: Yes, even though none of my paintings in this show involve collage. But the sense of painting incorporating rude interruptions of other materials and everyday life has always been important to me.
Konsterlie: Do you feel the viewer should be able to know what your painting is about?
Anne Sherwood Pundyk Yes. All the decisions I make while creating a painting such as size, materials, combinations of colors, placement of the spills and geometric formations, generate elements that my audience can read while standing in front of my painting. The experience of absorbing all the elements together, as well as other associations they may bring to the work becomes what the painting is “about.”
David Rich For me painting needs to be compelling, like it demands to be read. I don’t mean in a literal way. But there is something confrontational about it, which puts the viewer on the spot. And as the viewer becomes engaged with seeing the painting, the painting takes on something of a train of thought, or time, compressed into a visual object. Abstract painting doesn’t have to be for everybody, but on the other hand, it can be for anybody.
Cecilia Whittaker-Doe About 6 years ago I thought of collage as a way of making my compositions in painting. Not to make collages separately, but to start applying the paint in a way that disregarded the linear sense of the composition and instead used the disjointed appearance of collage. Collage works for me when it has this disjointed appearance but at the same time combines lines and imagery to make a whole. This is how I wanted to paint.
Cat Balco Susan Sontag,
Vincent Verrillo modern poetry,
Becky Yazdan The viewer does not need to know what the painting is about, although they need to be able to relate to it in some way. The titles of my paintings offer clues to the content but I am not interested in spelling anything out – I like for them to remain open enough that the viewer can bring in their own associations. My work deals with specific personal experiences and memories and my hope is that by dealing with the particular, the paintings will be accessible to a broader audience through a sense of shared human experience.
Konsterlie: Do you start with something in mind when you start a painting? (Automatic marks)?
Anne Sherwood Pundyk I find that the first freeform spills, blot or pours that I make when starting a painting each release a specific kind of energy that becomes part of the work. I will opt to begin on a certain size of canvas or paper and use a color that resonates with me and I even may have an idea of a shape for the paint, but the experience of comparing my intention with the reality of the execution is an important first reckoning.
David Rich For me a painting starts with an idea, a situation, or a conflict and then goes through a restless process of reworking, editing and improvisation. The process is like ‘destination unknown’. Weirdly, though, the painting often ends up pretty consistent with the initial intent.
Cecilia Whittaker-Doe For some reason the natural landscape resonates with me. It connects for me not only with our psychological and physical existence within it, but with the visual connections I find between our bodies and the forms within it This is where I begin. I start with either a watercolor gestural painting on the surface or a silkscreened image I’ve prepared. From there I react to what is in front of me and I try to respond to the imagery that is conjured through this process.
Cat Balco “take care of your affections.”
Becky Yazdan My paintings often start with a color idea or a shape I noticed on the walk to the studio – anything to get me started. I don’t know what the end result will be until the painting has asserted itself and the meaning has become (more or less) clear. The goal is for the painting to become its own self, its own idea.
Konsterlie: How do you choose your palette?
Anne Sherwood Pundyk There is both specificity and an improvisational quality to my color combinations. Each color carries associations for me of emotions, place, time or experiences. As I layer and combine different colors, I am melding these associations creating a new personal reality.
David Rich My sense of light constructed from color comes from when I was working from observation. Late afternoon and early evening light often inform my work. It is this relational sense of color, more than symbolism, that shapes the way I work with color intervals.
Cecilia Whittaker-Doe “No formula for coloring palette.
Vincent Verrillo “mood or feeling”
Konsterlie: What is the task of “painting” for society?
Anne Sherwood Pundyk Society encourages us almost relentlessly to conform to the views of others, and not to think and feel for ourselves. Painting connects to the value and power of recognizing the individual point of view.
David Rich Instead of being an escape from the world, painting can be a way more deeply into our lived experience. That’s why I like your title for this show, Reality of Abstraction. It suggests that we are not just in our own little subjective bubbles, but rather are engaged in the world, and each other, in an inter-subjective way.
Cecilia Whittaker-Doe it’s like poetry
Cat Balco Mondrian, Theosophical Society- Helena Petrovna Blavatsky
Hilma af Klint (October 26, 1862 – October 21, 1944) was a Sweden artist and mystic whose paintings were amongst the first abstract art. A considerable body of her abstract work predates the first purely abstract compositions by Kandinsky. She belonged to a group called “The Five” (a circle of women who shared her belief in the importance of trying to make contact with the so-called ‘high masters’ – often by way of séances) and her paintings, which sometimes resembled diagrams, were a visual representation of complex spiritual ideas.
ABOUT THE UPCOMING EXHIBITION “SELFIE”
Open Call to Artists: “Selfie” an exhibition of self-portraits
The Schelfhaudt Gallery has a special opportunity for artists to express themselves…literally! We are assembling a show of self-portraits.
During her lifetime, Frida Kahlo created some 200 paintings, 55 of which are self-portraits. When asked why she painted so many self-portraits, Frida replied:”Because I am so often alone…because I am the subject I know best.”
Pablo Picasso posed the question, “Are we to paint what’s on the face, what’s inside the face, or what’s behind it?
If you would like to participate, please email a self-portrait, along with a brief bio, to:email@example.com
SUBMISSION DETAILS: http://www.schelfhaudtgallery.com/press-release-open-call-to-artists/
Q. I see that all mediums are accepted except photography. Why is that?
A. Because the premise of the show is a sample of the self-portrait tradition and not a trending version brought on by a technical advancement of the phone/camera.
Please join us on Friday Feb. 10th from 5:00-7:30pm for a wine and cheese and music reception to celebrate the show! Please tell family, friends, and guests are welcome!
Free to attend but kindly RSVP.
The reception is free and open to the public. The exhibition runs through April 8th.
Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Saturday, 12 to 4 p.m.
Shintaro Akatsu School of Design (SASD) on the University of Bridgeport campus is located in the Arnold Bernhard Center (ABC), 84 Iranistan Avenue, Bridgeport, CT 06604.
Off street parking is available.
Reality of Abstraction Artists
Cat Balco http://catbalco.com/home.html
Mike Childs http://www.mikechilds.net
Rob Fischer http://Rob-Fischer.com
Anne Sherwood Pundyk annepundyk.com
David Rich http://www.davidrich.net
Cecilia Whittaker-Doe https://ceciliawhittaker-doe.com/gallery/
Becky Yazdan Http://beckyyazdan.com
Gallery website: http://www.schelfhaudtgallery.com/reality-of-abstraction/