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Two-person exhibit at Meibohm blurs observation, imagination

We draw a distinction between the real and the imaginary, between the tangible and the intangible. But where do they intersect? Observation and imagination, arguably two key components in art-making, blur and change place when viewing the work of artists Raymond Bonilla and Richard Kersting in “Observe and Imagine,” opening Sept. 16 in Meibohm Fine Arts.

The two-person exhibit features 32 paintings by artists who are both inspired by traditional techniques and materials from 19th and 20th centuries and earlier practices going back as far back as the 15th century such as utilizing egg tempera paint.

To see Bonilla’s painting, “Last Light on Richmond” (2016), is to seemingly take a visual walk into the city on a bright blue day. Warm light dramatically washes the top floors of a quintessentially Buffalonian home, casting the rest into long shadows. While devoid of people, it evokes a sense of familiarity and neighborliness, brought out by Bonilla’s skillful brushwork and attention to detail.

As Bonilla explained, this is an essential part of his process. “I think my art revolves around the idea of constructing visual essays about places that have had a great personal impact on me,” he said in a recent interview.

Bonilla translates that impact into his work, changing pure observation into an emotionally imaginative process.

While Bonilla’s work stems from careful observation, Kersting leaves behind deliberate intention to explore the subconscious.

“My stuff, though somewhat eclectic on the surface, is more Jungian, subjective, psychological,” Kersting said.

This can be grasped in his miniature painting “Under Boundless Intention” (2013). Tiny in scale, the painting nonetheless draws the eye in and around with bizarre shapes and figures that are at once recognizable and impossible. This is exemplified in the red and white figure in the background swinging a book-like object: the longer one studies it, the less it makes sense. In essence, the imaginary scene inspires careful, meditative observation.

Together, Bonilla and Kersting ask viewers to observe the imaginable and imagine the observable. Be sure to check it out.

PREVIEW

What: “Observe and Imagine,” featuring work by Raymond Bonilla and Richard Kersting.

When: Opening reception is 6 to 9 p.m. Sept. 16. Show goes through Oct. 15

Where: Meibohm Fine Arts, 478 Main St., East Aurora,

Info: meibohmfinearts.com

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