Alicia Armstrong’s new body of work represents an adventurous departure from her previous series. Her new paintings, through a creative manipulation of materials and rare sensitivity to color and tone, are simultaneously abstract and boldly representational. What at first glance may appear to be washes of color that conclude with expressive, tactile features that end in drippings or dramatic concentrations of color, become suggestive of landscape, dramatic horizon lines, or the interior of a rock formation. The application of materials she later removes to create hard lines also forms transparent layers, which lead viewers to wonder where these mysterious, but defined paths lead. viewers are left with questions rather than answers, about the future, about destinations, and about what they are seeing.
2000 Bachelor of Fine Arts, University of North Carolina Asheville *Academic Leadership Award
2017 Wintertide, The Haen Gallery, Asheville, NC 2015 Story tellers, Gardner Colby Gallery, Naples, FL 2014 The figure in oil, wax, and clay, Eno Gallery, Hillsborough, NC 2013 A girl and a gun, Asheville Arts Council, Asheville, NC 2013 Small game, The Haen Gallery, Brevard, NC 2013 Here, After. Upstairs Art Gallery, Tryon, NC 2012 Waking up with Van Gogh, Hickory Museum of Art, Hickory, NC 2012 Winter Show, Greenhill Center for the Arts, Greensboro, NC 2011 High Strung, Atelier Gallery, Charleston, SC 2009 Art in Architecture, Merrimon Galleries, Asheville, NC 2008 Figures and Faces, Merrimon Galleries, Asheville, NC
Atelier Gallery, Charleston, SC Gardner Colby Gallery, Naples, FL Jules Place, Boston, MA Eno Gallery, Hillsborough, NC The Haen Gallery, Asheville & Brevard, NC
2015 American Art Collector ‘story tellers’ 2014 The Herald Sun ‘the figure in oil, wax, and clay’ 2013 Charleston Scout Guide 2013 Carolina Home and Garden ‘ matters of the heart’ 2012 Verve magazine ‘resistance of vision’ 2012 Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles
Asheville’s Alicia Armstrong paints memories, longings, dreams, inconsistencies. A single work often incorporates the questions posed by contrasts – both literal and conceptual – and captures the inescapable and dichotomous realities of life: joy and suffering, light and dark, closeness and distance. At the same time she offers viewers relief via temporary respite rather than finite solutions.
Armstrong’s parents, both artists in their own rights, fostered her artistic nature and art was an important part of her childhood world. She holds a BFA with a concentration in Oil Painting from the University of North Carolina at Asheville and stood out early on as the winner of the Fine Art department‘s academic leadership award. After a decade working in traditional painting and photographic portraiture, she began to concentrate on producing more abstract works, pieces imbued with symbolic imagery.
Her paintings are included in numerous private collections, as well as those of the University of North Carolina at Asheville’s Lipinsky Auditorium and Asheville’s Bravo Concert Series. They also grace many gallery walls in Asheville and the southeast.
The images are contemplative and sometimes playful takes on the often bewildering constructs and confines of postmodern life. Armstrong’s work is often figurative and segmented, influenced by both her life’s trajectory and the conundrums posed by the compartmentalization and overstimulation we experience daily. The vicissitudes and joys she observes appear often as well, from the complexity of familial bonds, like motherhood, to the beginnings and endings of relationships.
Armstrong paints primarily on wood panels using graphite, oil, and charcoal; her process produces highly textural works, whose layers help convey the beauty and struggle of movement and transition. She captures moments, reflective and chaotic, by literally containing the image, with varnish. A self-described “mark maker,” her images resonate with a diverse group of viewers and collectors. It’s easy to identify with the struggles of her figures: a man whose bottom half is a wheel, engaging in a Sisyphean struggle up a vaguely delineated mountain, paired with disembodied boats seemingly floating toward an uncertain destination; siblings pushing and pulling at each other over a gulf, or a lifetime; a woman pondering choices.
Armstrong’s canvases pose questions, yet inject comfort into discomfort; they encompass the archetypal play between light and dark, but encourage viewers to formulate their own answers, rather than attempt “correct” interpretation. This openness is a hallmark of the artist and her work; she not only presents images and ideas, but intimates unspoken possibilities.