By Shelley Werner
(Calgary) – Exploring the inner landscape is something that artist Alan Briks is familiar with. An art therapist by training, his work takes the viewer on a journey of self-discovery. TBT Gallery at Temple B’nai Tikvah is currently hosting his new show “Leap of Faith” with a series of both landscape and abstract works designed to invite the viewer to respond in an emotional way.
“The title is ‘Leap of Faith,’ I thought it to be appropriate in that painting takes you into a place that may be experimental, fresh, unknown,” explains Birks. “My works have a spiritual aspect to them, as art is a spiritual endeavour. For me it’s a meditation, it’s a way of doing landscapes, of connecting with nature; an endeavour in a more abstract realm and it might be a way of connecting with the inner self, or even connecting in a more spiritual level. Art connects me with aspects of my inner world.”
Gallery curator Jennifer Eiserman comments, “Briks reminds us to approach Creation with wonder and awe, ways of relating to the world that we have forgotten in the contemporary time of Twitter and Instagram and immediate gratification. To lose oneself in the experience of awe is to take that leap of faith to a place where maybe there is something greater than ourselves behind all of this.”
Briks got his start working with stained glass – a stunning example can be seen on the cover of the December Calgary edition of Alberta Jewish News. The beautiful image is a photograph of the stained glass Aron Kodesh doors at Chabad synagogue in Calgary. Artist Alan Briks had endeavoured the project in memory of his father. The photo was taken by Simon Apter.
Briks has recently turned his focus to other media. He thinks of the work, the “play” that he does now as very much relating to initial architectural stained-glass design. He finds painting to be liberating: with stained-glass art you are dealing with certain rules of glass; with painting there is a great freedom. He thinks of his painting imagery as being stained glass without the lead or glass.
After viewing the work Briks hopes that if the work is successful, it will be something that somebody can relate to. In another sense it may be something that people have an opportunity to contemplate and not have a definite idea of viewing a “pretty setting.” They may ask why a piece is titled in a certain way and wonder how it can have a relation to their experience in some way. Perhaps, says Briks, there’s some discomfort in that it might not.
The titles of the pieces can help give something of a reference. There is a difference between representational art and more abstract art which has symbolic aspects. It also may have many meanings interfused. The title may act as a hint to the artist’s process.
“I say I’m more easily representational; the paintings that I do representationally are a joy,” he notes. “I go into nature and I see a scene and I go into a meditation or a trance usually with a sense of ease. With the more abstract works there is more of an internal process involved, relating to spontaneous art. It’s not planned. It’s developing a life of its own through the process. Somewhere within the process I get a suggestion of where it wants to go: it lets me know.”
He further states that a landscape can take about two hours; a “process piece,” which is his term for an abstract art work, may take a day, often a month. As spontaneous as it might be, it’s returning to the piece again and again over time.
Briks has commented that the very abstract pieces in the show are done in studio, sometimes with Jazz or Classical music playing. The process pieces refer to his intuition, sense of adventure and problem solving. The common element to the landscapes, process pieces and figures is an appreciation of spontaneous art. This nourishes the imagination and symbol formation which is the pathway to our internal understanding and stories.
“A leap of faith is about risk, it’s about the unknown, it’s about trying something new and different without knowing what the result is going to be. Maybe it’s going to work, and maybe it’s not. The leap of faith is trusting the process, and as you continue to evolve, the process nourishes you and the painting informs you.
”“Leap of Faith” can be seen until January 27, 2023 at TBT Gallery, Temple B’nai Tikvah, 900 47 Ave SW, Calgary. Monday to Thursday 9:00 am to 4:00 pm/ Friday 9:00 am to 2:00 pm or by appointment with the artist: email@example.com and 403-828-7360.
Shelley Werner is the host of Art and Scroll Studio zoom series that celebrates the makers and creators of Judaica Art.
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