Quest Discovery November 20, 2017

I am very privileged to have this week’s blog written by Karima Noor Elmaghraby Radwan.

Karima is an art historian and lecturer from Washington DC.After graduating from UNC-Chapel Hill where she completed an BA in Classics and an MA in Art History, Karima worked at Christie’s in London in the 20th century decorative arts department and then later moved back to the US to teach art history at various colleges around the greater DC area. Karima has traveled a lot and lived in many countries including England, France, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, and now Romania.

I’ve had the great fortune to have Karima present at my latest body of work, Quest. Before the opening, she came to my studio and we spend a couple of hours discussing the work. Here are Karima’s own words:

Karima Radwan giving an in-depth explanation of Ramona Pintea's latest exhibition, 'Quest', at Renaissance Art Gallery 2017

Karima Radwan giving an in-depth explanation of Ramona Pintea’s latest exhibition, ‘Quest’, at Renaissance Art Gallery 2017

‘I always ask the artist what their personal intentions were as they painted when I come to look at a new collection.  As they speak, I look at the art and gather my own thoughts on line, shape, form, color, and as I listen, I am spurred to ask more questions as to why that color, what was the meaning of that shape there, why that size, why, why, why?

In Ramona’s earlier collection this year, Flowers II, I felt a great Impressionistic pull and a joyous celebration of life.  Floral images dominated many of the paintings.  When we began speaking about her new collection, Quest, she told me she had originally started with the idea that she wanted to paint nudes.  Once she had painted her first nude of the collection, she was unsatisfied.  She felt that it was soulless and not at all what her intention had been when she began to paint.  She was pleased with it technically, but was unsatisfied intellectually and emotionally.  It was at that point that wings began to appear in the image, almost of their own free will.  Ramona questioned their appearance, and painted them out.  Once again, the wings appeared, and Ramona accepted that she needed to explore this concept further. But, as she explored that idea, Ramona began to ask herself questions, such as:

“Why am I here?”
“What am I doing?”

“Why is it the thing I really want not happening?”

“What is going on?”
“Please explain to me?”

These are all questions we have all faced at one time or another, and Ramona was asking herself these queries.  In the past decade, she had participated in past lives regression, angel therapy, shamanic journeys and as Ramona began to think about these experiences, some ideas, images and inspiration came to her.

Firstly, we all talk to God, spirits, angels, higher beings, ourselves, etc. — but we are all seeking the same answers through different avenues. “What?  Why?  How come? Please help me?”  These paintings are the physical manifestation of these thoughts and ideas. As we look at her collection, Quest, we take on the role of the observer.  The viewer,  the spectator is an important idea in art. What is art if we do not have someone to see it?  Images create conversations between the image and viewer, and this collection of paintings play so well with that idea.

Secondly, angels figure predominantly in Quest.  But, are they angels?  If we look at them closely, we will begin to dissect them and really observe, and as we look, we realize that they are the angels in us.  For instance in Take Off, the woman looks up, asking for answers, maybe seeking an angel for help, and we, as the observer, notice that she has wings.  We, as the viewer, realize what she has not had the chance to acknowledge yet, that she has the angel in herself.

In Blessings, for instance, we see a woman talking to someone or something, asking the questions and looking into the light, and as we see, she sees and we experience the journey along with her. We become participants in the spiritual journey of the figures in the painting, and in turn, we go through our own journey, too.

We are all on a spiritual journey and these paintings are a kind of physical manifestations of these thoughts and ideas.  In many of these images, we see single figures on solitary journeys because we are all on our own quest, and whether we acknowledge it or not, we are living it on our own, even if we surround ourselves with loved ones, friends, things, but in the end, it is our journey and our life and it is our path to live.

Many of the figures only have one wing, such as Growing My Wings, and that is because they don’t realize they are angels, just like many of us do not realize our potential.  In life, we often do not realize our own abilities and we do not realize that the answers exist in ourselves.  We are our own angels, but we do not see the whole picture, just like there is only half of a pair of wings, we see only half the idea.

In life, we often complicate things or stand in our own way.  In A Shamanic Journey, this painting explores shamanism and Ramona’s spiritual animal is the lioness.  Here, the woman is standing up, she’s trying so hard to find what she is looking for.   Sometimes we need to stop looking without for the answers and look within.  The lioness says “it is so simple.  Stop, why make it so complicated.  Accept yourself and accept that you are enough, your answers lie within.”  That is the message Ramona is illustrating in her art.

And to go back where we started, I asked the question to myself and to Ramona, why paint a collection of nudes?   Nudes are symbolic and emblematic of that exposed and weak state.   We are at our most vulnerable when we are laid bare, naked, nothing to hide behind.  All exposed.  It’s when we ask questions and begin to go on a quest, our own journey, that as we are exposed and laid open to everything, we begin our path of discovery.  There is a fine line between different plains of existence and people can be their own angels if they are willing to lay themselves bare and explore their own vulnerabilities.

As Ramona painted these, nudes, she began to realize that she had painted abstract images during her own exploration and healing process that linked tonally with each painting, completely unconsciously!  So, as we look at abstract #3, we can see that it lines up with Finding My Wings.  As we observe the colors, one can see how they line up between the two paintings.  When you study the colors, Ramona explains that they are influenced by the colors of the Chakra system:

Red – Root, being rooted here on earth
Orange – pelvic region, source of creativity
Yellow – solar plexus, willpower
Green – heart
Blue – throat, communication
Lilac – forehead, third eye, visions
White – crown of the head, communications with a higher source.

Throughout these works of art, these colors line up with the thoughts and emotions she intends us to feel and experience as we look upon her paintings.  And interspersed, there are shiny, silvery sparks that denote another realm, and her vibrant colors correspond with the Shakra system.

Quest takes us on a journey, a journey that we must be a willing participant in order for us to understand and experience the most out of looking and appreciating Quest.  Quest is a collection that is not only aesthetically pleasing, intellectually stimulating and technically challenging, but Quest is emotionally cathartic, too.  We need to look within ourselves to find our answers, our happiness and our fulfillment.’

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