The Tribune Review, January 25, 2015

The Tribune Review, January 25, 2015

Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015, 6:38 p.m.
Updated 15 hours ago

belgin yucelen, sculptor, sculpture, figurative sculpture, bronze, contemporary art, turkish artist, publication, art critiqueBox Heart Gallery’s 14th annual “Art Inter/National” exhibit, on display now, showcases the works of 20 artists from around the world.

For this exhibit, the gallery received more than 600 entries from 10 countries — Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Iran, Israel, Malaysia, Pakistan, Russia, Turkey and the United States. Of those entries, gallery co-owner and director Nicole Capozzi and gallery co-owner Joshua Hogan selected 20 artists for participation and 24 works of art for display in a variety of media.

For example, “Lullaby,” a massive oil painting by KG Babu, hangs in the gallery’s front window.

Babu grew up in the urban slums of Thrissur, the 20th largest city in India, and often visits his brother who lives in a rural village among the Adivasis, or indigenous peoples of India.

The piece depicts a strong-willed mother holding her child, and it is cast aglow in the warmest of colors. A toucan in the upper right corner adds a nice tropical touch. Being drawn into the warmth and glory of tribal life, Babu has effortlessly transcribed that feeling into the pulsating rhythm present in this magnificent work.

Smaller, although equally colorful and compelling paintings abound, such as a semi-abstract painting of horses, “Horses Run Forever,” by Iranian artist Reza Rafiei Rad, and another horse-themed work, “Trojans in the Fragile World” by Colombian artist John Quintero Villar.

And a painting of sorts, “Jewish Goblin” by Revital Falke of Tel Aviv, Israel, is a showstopper. It is made of polymer clay, but made to look like a painting of a beach scene filled with people. Born and raised in Tel Aviv, Falke says she was inspired by the concept of “collective conscious” and depicts this scene as being representative of the Israeli collective conscious as a way to “talk back” to the Israeli community.

Several sculptural works are spread throughout the exhibit, with wood works making up the majority. They range from large, commanding pieces, such as “Wooden Waterfall” by Paul Kruger of New York City, which is made of slabs of black walnut, to a small, perfectly shaped sphere made of buckeye burl by Ric Taylor of Houston.

“Impudence,” a bronze sculpture by Turkish artist Belgin Yucelen, is a real standout. A figurative piece, it features a court jester looking at himself in a mirror. Self-reflexive, in more ways than one, it invites viewers to connect with the artist through their experience of self-observation.

Another standout is “Lines I & II” by Pakistani artist Meryam Fayyaz. Made from torn sheets of tracing paper, built up in layers, each piece looks like a window into a cloud.

Mythology and movement make for an interesting mix in “Afternoon of the Faun,” a lively charcoal drawing of dancing figures by Richard Claraval of East Liberty. Claraval is one of only three Pittsburghers with work in the show. Tony Cavalline and Jim Studeny are the others.

Finally, Toronto artist Kal Mansur deconstructs the functionality of light and space, encapsulating them in familiar, yet unrecognizable, objects.

He is the recipient of the “2015 Art Inter/National Best of Show” award for his acrylic-glass wall sculpture, “Tan Prelude Two,” which uses readily available sheet goods, standard construction tools and high-quality adhesives that coalesce into ambiguous objects that, paradoxically, appear to be machine-made.

It’s worth noting that Mansur will be Box Heart’s “2016 Artist of the Year,” and he has been awarded a solo exhibit at the gallery next year, after the next “Art Inter/National” exhibit.

Last year, American artist Kevin Bielicki was the recipient of the “2014 Art Inter/National Best of Show” award for his wall-mounted wood sculpture “Rings 2,” in which he had cut out the rings from a salvaged locust tree and arranged them in space to demonstrate the process of transformation.

Interested in the progressive qualities of botanical forms and how they always find ways to grow despite many obstacles, Bielicki combines forms of wood like vines, roots and branches with industrial materials such as concrete, steel and epoxy resin in ways that activate space. His exhibit will be on display in the gallery next, from March 17 to April 10.

Kurt Shaw is the art critic for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at

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