"The Shift Series" review

Brushy teal swirls outlined in coral red radiate amongst a canary yellow backdrop. These curving shapes eddy above a mint green horizon line, giving substance to unseen winds (i.e. Shift Series #65). Galerie Hertz is teeming with 40+ works in Ivan Schieferdecker’s current solo exhibition, “Shift Series.” The overlapping patterns and shapes combine to form abstract landscapes inspired by Japanese Zen Gardens. In contrast to the natural elements in these works, there is also a structured architectural quality. This is especially evident in the recurring grid motif peering through layers of mixed media.

The works of Ivan Schieferdecker are always masterful explorations of formal art elements: pattern, color, and composition. Intensity of expression is explored through the use of powerful color combinations. This series brings to mind the work of Sonia and Robert Delaunay. Much like the work of the Delaunays, Ivan’s use of complementary colors creates a visual vibration. This is especially apparent in the oil painting, “Shift Series #52.” Shades of cobalt blue and cadmium orange radiate within a dynamic composition consisting of twisting lines juxtaposed amongst a grid-like pattern. The carefully constructed composition retains an expressive quality through the painterly application of small square brushstrokes ascending from below.

While many of the works in this show feature expressive paint applications reminiscent of lyrical abstraction, others display a hard-edge approach. “Shift Series #80,” for example, is composed of solid and bold applications of color like that of Frank Stella. Similar to Stella, Ivan works in series by developing prolific variations on selected themes. “Shift Series” is an impressive and contemplative body of work.

Japanese Zen Gardens are peaceful places of meditation. These stylized dry landscapes are inherently symbolic: raked sand symbolizes water and larger rocks may represent mountains. In a way, the gardens themselves are a form of land art abstraction. Both the “Shift Series” and the Japanese gardens are careful created works, imitating and capturing the essence of nature through symbolism. Gathering inspiration from these gardens, Ivan has created a series of works contemplating nature from an aerial view. The architectural quality evokes thoughts of man-made structures replacing or co-existing with nature. This is especially evident in “Shift Series #76.” This juxtaposition allows one to contemplate the human tendency to manipulate nature —for better or for worse.

This prolific collection of work encapsulates the viewer and inspires contemplation. These expressive paintings are an exploration of both formal art elements and the shifting of our world. Ivan Schieferdecker’s “Shift Series” provides a unique reflection of landscape art, while encouraging consideration about how we treat and change the natural world.

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