Partners in Pattern

I can’t imagine a more perfect pairing of artwork than these — Andrew Werth’s Conceptual Frame, acrylic on panel, at left, and Charles Katzenbach’s Disorderly Colors, oil on glasswork, at right. Both are about precision and about color, and both artists have technical backgrounds — Mr. Werth in computer engineering and information networking, and Mr. Katzenbach in construction. Both artists are obsessed with pattern, and each has developed his own technique to explore patterns.

With their centered geometric shapes and bold colors, the glass paintings of Mr. Katzenbach are reminiscent of Tibetan mandalas, Islamic mosaic and textile art, and Amish quilt design. Mr. Werth’s paintings are inspired by his interest in cognitive science and the philosophy of mind, and  consist of thousands of individual hand-painted marks. He is exploring color theory and perception and wants to create work that can be looked at again and again, because there is always something new to see in the way the colors and patterns emerge.

Mr. Katzenbach’s glass quilts are layered so you can see through some areas and not others. As a viewer moves, the painting changes as new elements become visible. Writes Mr. Werth: The colors we see are due to the pigmentation in our eyes as well as the neural structure of our brain. We generally think of vision as being like photography, where an entire image is presented to us at once. However, vision might be better compared-surprisingly-to touch, since it is only through the continuous probing and movement of our eyes that we are able to construct the world around us.

Reflections, an exhibition of colorful, eye-catching abstract paintings by Charles Katzenbach and Andrew Werth, will be on display at Artists’ Gallery April 9-May 2. A reception with the artists will be held at the gallery’s new location, 18 Bridge St., Lambertville,  6- 9 p.m. April 10.

In “Reflections”, Messrs. Katzenbach and Werth offer viewers a variety of visual experiences through the manipulation of paint, pattern, and surface.  As you walk around the gallery, paintings change their appearance depending upon where you stand.  In Mr. Katzenbach’s oil paintings on glass and mirrors, your angle of view determines which planes of color are revealed and which are hidden, with reflections from one layer interacting with the paint on another.  Mr. Werth’s acrylic paintings make use of thousands of hand-painted marks of color that the eye integrates differently depending upon how far back you stand from the work.  In addition, some works include reflective and pearlescent pigments whose appearance changes as you walk from left to right.

The title of the show, Reflection, also refers to a type of symmetry used by both artists in this exhibition.  Mr. Katzenbach’s Disorderly Colors, for instance, is reflectively symmetrical in its design both vertically and horizontally, though as the title suggests, not in its dramatic use of color.  Mr. Werth’s Conceptual Framework has a diagonal reflective symmetry in its geometry, a tessellation of patterns that include rotation and translation as well as reflection.

In addition to these literal reflections, both artists encourage viewers to consider reflections of a more metaphorical kind.  Mr. Katzenbach has long been fascinated with Tibetan mandalas and the deeply spiritual and symbolic Sri Yantra. Mr. Werth’s paintings are often about how our embodied minds make sense of the world and are inspired by his interest in philosophy and cognitive science.

Charles Katzenbach studied art both at Princeton University with painter Esteban Vincente and master potter Toshiko Takaezu and then at the New York Studio School.  He was featured in New Art International 2004 and has exhibited in solo and group shows throughout the Northeast.  Katzenbach lives in Hopewell.

Andrew Werth received degrees in Computer Engineering and Information Networking from Carnegie Mellon University and has studied art at various schools in New York City including The Arts Students League, The School of Visual Arts, and The New School. His paintings have been exhibited at many tri-state venues from Philadelphia through Hudson, NY.  Werth lives in West Windsor.

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