‘small seas’ reception makes big waves

A gallery visitor gets up close and personal with artist Liat Yossifor’s artwork, taking in all the small details of her piece, Tuesday at the opening of the “small seas” exhibit in the Harris Gallery. The paintings were described as diary entries for the artist, each giving a different feeling but all done in the same abstract style. / photo by Vincent Matthew Franco

Vincent Matthew Franco
Social Media Editor

Los Angeles-based artist Liat Yossifor, in collaboration with Harris Gallery Director Dion Johnson, held a reception for her solo exhibition, “small seas,” Tuesday in the Harris Gallery.

Around 40 people, including students, friends and family of the artist, sporadically attended the reception.

Sixteen small pieces of oil based paintings on paper wrapped in a straight line around the walls of the gallery. The small scaled paintings are easily described as abstract art but give an intimate look into Yossifor’s daily life. They were all done in the same style but demonstrated different patterns and textures individually. This was because they were done as daily diary entries for the artist for over a year. It was as if they were done autonomously by Yossifor. 

“They’re shapeshifters and they capture a mood, and a moment in time,” Yossifor said. “So what you’re seeing is a small selection of about 200 of these, that was a whole year of making these daily. So you’re capturing different times of not just my life, but the life outside the studio.” 

Hand picking only 16 pieces out of 200 was not an easy task for her. She had to display all of them in front of her and meticulously pick them out. None of them were premeditated at all either and each acted as a representation of how she was feeling the day she made them.

“It’s an intuitive decision, but when you say intuition, that’s also not some kind of concept from outside the studio, intuition is built up after many years of doing this and being able to add it and so forth builds into the practice,” Yossifor said. 

This attention to detail could be seen throughout the exhibition. The walls where the paintings hung were painted gray and had a single light pointed toward them individually. A concept that Johnson came up with to center the audience’s attention to the paintings.

The title “small seas” does not represent the fact that the paintings look like waves of beautiful colors though. It comes from an idea of expressing incomplete thoughts and ideas Yossifor has throughout her day.

“I was thinking about the sea representing the unconscious and small seasons, small little formats, that refers to the way that I paint which is based on automatic drawing technique,” she said.

The chunks of oil paint are inviting to the viewer to come up close and examine the pieces personally. There they will find fragments of hair accompanied by broken off lead from pencils engrossed in the lumps of paint. 

“I love the use of colors as well,” senior studio art major Hayley Perez said. “The way that there’s so many different colors in one painting, they’re kind of confined to their own spots. And the textures themselves are just my favorite part.”

Interwoven in those waves of color are human-like figures. Although they are not there entirely on purpose, Yossifor says because people are another thing you see every day, they naturally just merge into her paintings. Adding to the concept of her joining paint and paper to see what comes out of it.

“I get a sense of joy, I get to look into her world,” Johnson said. “There’s a moment where color gets to dance around and kind of sparkle and invite me into something and that’s nice.”

Throughout the reception, Yossifor can be seen mingling with art students and giving advice to those who ask for it. 

Freshman art major Gabriella Guzman asked her for help in coming up with new ideas. Yossifor simply told her not to over think it and just start working. 

“small seas” is open at the Harris Gallery until May 11 and the gallery is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m to 4 p.m. or by appointment. 

Vincent Matthew Franco can be reached at vincent.franco@laverne.edu

University of La Verne students and faculty, along with friends and family of artist Liat Yossifor, gather in the Harris Gallery for the opening reception of her solo exhibition, “small seas” on Tuesday. The oil paintings on paper that line the walls of the gallery are the result of a year’s worth of work by Yossifor. / photo by Vincent Matthew Franco

Vincent Matthew Franco is a senior journalism major with a concentration in print and online journalism. He has been involved in journalism and print media in high school, community college and is now at the social media editor of the Campus Times and a staff photographer for the Campus Times and La Verne Magazine. He previously served as arts editor.


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