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Art review: 'Art Inter/National Art Exhibition' at BoxHeart Gallery

| Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016, 9:00 p.m.
BoxHeart Gallery
Capucine Gros, 'The Geography of Love,' Switzerland
BoxHeart Gallery
Darian Goldin Stahl, 'The Importance of Dualism,' Germany
BoxHeart Gallery
Carolyn Pierotti, 'Mother’s Sorrow,' United States
BoxHeart Gallery
Ketevan Shalamberidze, mixed media on paper, Georgia
BoxHeart Gallery
Alice Raymond, 'Niijima,' France
BoxHeart Gallery
Kal Mansur, 'Blue Valkyrie One'

Over the past 14 years, BoxHeart's “Art Inter/National Exhibition” has featured the work of artists from more than 50 countries, including Angola, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, China, Colombia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, India, Iran and Myanmar.

“Despite our differences in place, the exhibition continually showcases how our world is delicately interconnected,” says gallery owner Nicole Capozzi.

This year is no different. When the 15th annual “Art Inter/National Exhibition” opens this weekend, visitors will be privy to the work of 22 artists from around the globe.

One of the show's standout pieces is “Lady,” a semi-abstract portrait of a woman by Ketevan Shalamberidze of Tbilisi, Georgia.

Tbilisi has always been a traditional center of different cultures, an international, multilingual place, where East and West meet.

Nowadays, Georgia is a developing democratic place, where Georgian contemporary art is gaining attention.

Shalamberidze says introducing the world to the contemporary fine art of Georgia is the best way discover the country, with its unique historical and cultural background. “It will help to promote a positive image of the country,” she says.

Shalamberidze's works are usually created in mixed media, first by painting on canvas or cardboard with ink or oil paint, then creating one or two monotype prints from that source image. She then completes the print by painting with gouache over the monotype.

As for her subject matter, which ranges from city scenes to the people that inhabit them, Shalamberidze says, “Each person is brought up by his/her country's unique historical and cultural experience. I am trying to extract those elements, which help me to compose character, concept and mood and to create a new dimension of existence for them.”

Kal Mansur of Toronto displays “Blue Valkyrie One,” a unique piece that's part of an ongoing series of acrylic-glass constructions that he started in 2014.

“After 20 years as a painter, it occurred to me that light and color are mediums in and of themselves,” Mansur says.

Using colored acrylic glass, Mansur creates his pieces by cutting, gluing, sanding and buffing it to alter the levels of translucency and reflectivity of each piece.

The material imbues color with volume, and as light moves through the work, colored shadows are created.

Mansur says the piece is about the nature of light and its myriad qualities. “The ability to ‘conduct' how light interacts with surfaces is an ongoing attempt to create a visual Braille, that is, a language by which color, light and composition can be felt and not merely observed.”

French artist Alice Raymond's abstract painting titled “Niijima” refers to an emerging island, growing and connecting to the surrounding archipelago thanks to a volcano eruption in Japan in the summer of 2013.

“The new territory is now named differently, and then reaches two of my interests: the evolution of landscapes and territories, and the mistakes originally made on maps and copied for decades,” says the artist.

“Niijima” is a mixed-media work Raymond created with donated house paint, acrylic paint, pen and pencil on recycled textile.

Darian Goldin Stahl, an artist in residence at Malaspina Printmakers, Vancouver, British Columbia, created a book based on the MRI scans of her sister, Devan Stahl, a clinical bioethicist at Michigan State University who has multiple sclerosis.

“The Importance of Dualism” concentrates on the complex emotions that accompany a medical diagnosis of chronic illness.

“The MRI machine gathers photographs of my sister's inner anatomy in slices,” she says. “Likewise, this book moves through her narrative on thin, transparent pages.”

The buildup of imagery and words seen through the pages points to the overwhelming amount of uneasy thought that comes in a moment of diagnosis. “Our voices combine in the construction of this book, which is the amalgamation of our collaborative endeavors to give context to the medicalized body,” Goldin Stahl says.

One noteworthy fact regarding this exhibit is that, even though it is international in scope, it is not without the work of a few Pittsburgh-area artists.

Carolyn Pierotti, who lives in the Manchester section of the North Side, displays “Mother's Sorrow,” an acrylic painting filled with colorful, expressive faces.

“This particular piece, and others that I'm working on, explores how women, including young girls, struggle every day trying to achieve goals socially, academically and within our careers,” Pierotti says. “As it turns out, our gender seems to be the biggest obstacle of all. The images in the painting are the obstacles that we — women, mothers and daughters — face constantly.”

“My painting may not change the world, but it has sparked conversation in my home, made my children aware of preferential treatment due to gender,” she says. “My hope is that some day, I will forge my way through. I keep pushing every day, not just for myself, but so my children can see how powerful a mother's sorrow can truly be. They are my inspiration always.”

There will be an opening reception with several of the exhibiting artists from 5 to 8 p.m. Jan. 23. The event is free, and the public is encouraged to attend.

Kurt Shaw is the Tribune-Review art critic. Reached him at kshaw@tribweb.com.

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