"Light Conquers All" and the art of Carolina Ellenbogen

Sat, Feb 1, 2020
by Elizabeth Spadea for Ellenbogen Gallery
Featured image is "Clusters I" from When the Light Breaks into Pieces.

"Constellations" by Carolina Ellenbogen (2020), Acrylic on Canvas, 36" x 36"

Bursts of light peek through the solid background, shattered into specks of an infinite reflection. The Venezuelan-born artist, Carolina Ellenbogen, channels the distortion of light as it emerges across the plane.

With an architectural background, Ellenbogen approaches her abstract works through an almost mathematical mind. Based on her understanding of, and experience within, the physical world, she is constantly observing the interaction of light. Refracting beams cover objects as rays adapt and change to the contours in shapes and the folds from one plane to the next. As Ellenbogen explains, light is the subject of her work. In her series ‘When the Light Breaks into Pieces’ Carolina Ellenbogen explores the potential of fragments of light as they shatter the semi-solid complexion of the canvas. Composed of varying tones of blue, metallic rectangles and squares emerge from the center. Ellenbogen offers an alternate view into what appears to be a universe of endless realities.

"Monolith" by Carolina Ellenbogen (2019), Acrylic on Canvas, 36" x 48"

Two-dimensional in physicality, but symbolic of tangible light, her geometric paintings account for the distortion and distribution of light as it spreads across the canvas. Eventually the fragments of light conduct a surge of energy radiating out from the center of the canvases. Ellenbogen poses questions surrounding the validity of solid forms; what does it mean to be solid? Space exits between us, within us and around us. According to Ellenbogen, there is no such thing as solid. It simply does not exist. Ellenbogen sees her work as another means to control space.

"Void" by Carolina Ellenbogen (2019), Acrylic on Canvas, 36" x 48"

In her practice, it is the construction of materials around space that generates the empty space we associate with architects, designers and artists alike. Translated into contemporary work, her non-representational paintings explore the demolition of ‘the solid’ through the powerful force of the light. Arguably one of the most powerful mediums in our lives, light conquers all. Ellenbogen explores the ephemerality of light, as it exists as a permanent force, yet it is also fleeting. Each day light is offered to us and then retracted. The evolution of our relationship with light comes into question as we force it into our homes and rely on it for day-to-day activity. We are light-dependent creatures.

Built around shades of blue, Ellenbogen successfully relays the infinite reality of the color throughout her works. The vast associations of the color blue range from atmospheric to bodies of water. Enchanted by the reality of light as it disturbs the serenity of blue; as light cascades across the ocean, as stars congregate in the night sky, Ellenbogen transfers the essence of shattered light into her work. As she enters into a semi-emotional realm, the warmth of light is felt across her canvases, exposing them to the possibility of existing in a much larger scale. What is seen, is not all that there is. Beyond the confines of the canvas, her work of infinite breaks within the solid plane exists.

"Infinity Mirrored Room - The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away" by Yayoi Kusama
"Infinity Mirrored Room - The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away" by Yayoi Kusama

In a similar way, light is used to explore infinities through the work of Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. In her instagram famous installation, ‘Infinity Mirrored Room - The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away…” (2013) Kusama constructs an alternate world, composed of mirrors and small LED lights, she explores the reality of space, and the distortion of the obvious. Immersive and explosive, the room is filled with small bursts of bright light. As Carolina Ellenbogen captures seemingly endless light bursts through her work, both women champion the conceptual debate of the power of light.

View another series of artworks that focus on light as the subject by Carolina Ellenbogen called "When the Light Folds" in her collections: HERE

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