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Nellie Fedchun: A Tribute to Significant Form

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Date: 
Thursday, 6 July 2023 to Sunday, 10 September 2023
Opening: 
Thursday, 6 July 2023 - 6:00pm to 8:00pm

NEW YORK, NY — Art at the Institute is delighted to announce A Tribute to Significant Form, an exhibition of select sculptures by Ukrainian-American artist Nellie Fedchun, opening July 6, remaining on view through September 10, 2023. An opening reception for the artist will be held on Thursday, July 6 from 6:00 to 8:00pm.

Using traditional modeling and firing techniques along with experimental methods, Nellie Fedchun brings porcelain masterpieces to life. Creating each work by hand from Stoneware clay, or chamotte, she sparingly uses color, with restraint, to accent the surface texture of each work's perceived and foreseeable condition. Her thematic forms bear organic abstractions — limbs, heads, and torsos — revealed slowly, gradually without conscious intention. 

Fedchun encourages us to consider how nature has shaped these organic materials long before her manipulation of them into new forms. When viewed as components in a complex natural system, their singular beauty and inherent mystery is ulimately unveiled. She compels us to view works of art not only as objects to be coveted and collected, but also as expressions of the natural world and our evolving relation to it over time.

Pushing upon Ms. Fedchun’s formalist notion of organic figuration and representation, the title of this exhibition refers to “the harmonious playing of one shape against another” and originates with the aesthetic theory developed by English art critic Clive Bell in the early-twentieth century, through whose lens the show is presented. Bell used the term ‘significant form’ to describe the idea that shape, line, and color in an artwork can be expressive in of itself and can create aesthetic emotion. An instinctive reaction to an artwork, this approach causes an immediate connection between the viewer and piece. It is the process of looking with open feeling — a personal, reflective and intuitive experience. Bell believed that this function was the primary value of any artwork and that any context linked to the work is of secondary value. 

Some viewers may come to see Fedchun’s modernist aesthetic as an oscillation between the romantic and classical that encompasses the two essential poles of the beautiful and sublime, but reinvents those terms through the her fusion of human and natural form. Certainly freed by the inhibiting restraints of modernity, and yet nourished by its formal and technical innovations, she is able to begin to achieve her full personal stature. A product of multiform inventiveness, Fedchun proves to be a constructor of images between the natural and the subconscious and between what we perceive and what we project emotionally into the objects of our world; one of the sculptor of scalable, imaginitive power, of which she is master and, the biomorphist producing viable work, with all the technique she requires.

A Tribute to Significant Form aims to rethink how we view and engage with art; calling upon viewers to truly immerse themselves with what is in front of them, to connect with palpable three-dimensional form on a personal and intimate level. In doing so, the experience of art is completely organic and not informed by its framework.

Nellie Fedchun was born in 1937 in Krasnoarmeysk, Donetsk region, Ukraine. In 1968, she graduated from the Lviv State Institute of Applied and Decorative Arts and in 1986, became a member of the National Union of Artists of Ukraine. Fedchun participated in numerous Ukrainian, all-Union and international ceramics and sculpture exhibitions in Europe and the United States. Besides her personal creative practice, she has worked on commissioned and state monumental projects and continues to work today in sculptural restoration. Nellie Fedchun works and lives in Brooklyn, NY. This is the artist’s first exhibition with the Ukrainian Institute of America.

Exhibition hours: Thursday to Sunday, 12-6 pm. Also by appointment.

Image caption: Nellie Fedchun, Floating Figure (2000), Stoneware clay, 8 1/2” H x 21” W x 7 1/2” D

For further information and media inquiries: Please contact Andrew Horodysky at (212) 288-8660 or andrew@ukrainianinstitute.org.

Telephone: 
(212) 288-8660
Venue ( Address ): 

2 East 79th Street
New York, NY 10075

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