Strange Blooms

Annelies van Dommelen is obsessed with ravens and raptors. She recounts a tale from her childhood, in which she found an injured crow in the park, and then took it to the nature center’s veterinarian to set its wing. “I was allowed to watch and for the first time, fainted at the sight of it all,” she says. “There went all thoughts of being a vet.

“When one looks into a raptor’s eyes,” she continues, “they look back at you, they are on watch.” Ms. van Dommelen’s work has an intentional mystery to it. “I don’t want the artwork to be transparent in meaning,” she says. “The object is for the viewer to bring one’s own ideas into the work.” Although she has worked in all media — everything from handmade boxes and books to paintings that are conversations with the subconscious — these days she is focusing on monotypes, a form of printmaking in which she uses a sheet of plexiglas as the plate. Using paint, brushes, lithography and etching ink, she creates on the plate, then commits the image to fine paper.

A single image is made from the plate, although when there is enough color left, a ghost print may be possible, usually with additions or deletions of ink.

“I am also exploring the world of ‘strange blooms,'” she says. “Always being in and observing nature all my life an awareness exists that no matter how many different blooms, insects, fish and underwater life that I see, there is always a surprise. Every year, there is a new discovery of plant life that I have not seen before and I am always interested in the tropical or strange flower or plant. If one draws the outlines of a fish, for instance, whatever you put inside, it still always reads as a fish. The abstract qualities of my work are for the imagination to pursue.”

By seeing recognizable images within the work, a viewer can exercise  composition, balance, color, movement, real and imaginary dimension, and symbols. In Ms. van Dommelen’s sculptural abstractions, she builds the plate with great attention to detail. “It is somewhat like a collograph plate, but instead of inking and printing it I have been painting them with oils to achieve a dimension that I had not dealt with since my paper-making days,” she says. “I am coming full circle but with knowledge in between.”

Pictured here is “Raven Haunt,” a monoprint, on view at 10 Church St., Lambertville, through November.

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