Abstract Artist: Alan Soffer
Medium: Encaustic on Wood
Soffer has been investigating various natural phenomena from the microscopic to the macroscopic, from geological, biological to cosmological. The subject can be inspired by some vague recollection in my subconscious to actually experiencing a visual image. The theme is constant, while the flavor of each piece is independent of its predecessors. Work develops spontaneously with a dialogue inspired more from the serendipity of the mark-making than any preconceived notions. More accurately the art is colored by emotions and his present state of being. This is in perfect harmony with the legacy of abstract expressionist vision, created through the medium of paint, wax, and sometimes both together. His mentor has been and still is Joseph Campbell, the mythology guru, who Bill Moyers interviewed for PBS in 1989. Studying Campbell’s philosophy has brought many unpredictable moments. And this body of work is a demonstration of the unexpected. Although he adopts a quasi scientific approach in researching subject matter, the paintings remain personal and authentic at their core. Each one is unique and not just an offspring of the last, though clearly related in concept and sensibility.
Alan Soffer has been making art since 1973 in a variety of modalities. Originally, he was known for ceramic sculpture, particularly, religious ritual objects and later for work about ancient healing , deconstruction, and fragmented imagery. His work as teacher and curator continues to augment his primary passion for abstract expressionist painting which began in 1985. His studies in sculpture and painting include Arrowmont School in Tenn., 1981 with Lew Snyder; State U of New York, Oswego with Richard Zakin; Parsons School of Design with Andrea Gill, 1983; Bennington College with Sandy Stone; Corcoran Museum School of Art with Paul Soldner, Peters Valley Art Center 1986 with Bennett Bean; Penna. Academy of Fine Arts, 1988, 1996, 1999; Ringling School of Design.
The work is clearly influenced by abstract expressionists of the past century and others, such as, Rauschenberg, Rivers, Frankenthaler, Motherwell, Chagall, Dubuffet, Keifer, Mondrian, and Polke. The body of work that defined Soffer in the early nineties was about ancient healing. The current emphasis on encaustics is a perfect marriage of his two loves- sculpture and painting. The other major direction of his work in the nineties was ‘the life cycle’, which was inspired through the teachings of Joseph Campbell. This work includes extensive treatment of creation theories, life and deconstruction, and finally rebirth. These subjects required research into science, primitive cultures and the ancient world, before, digesting and expressing the most salient features visually. Soffer continues to find Campbell to be his most important mentor.
Soffer’s exhibitions have traveled throughout the US, Argentina, Cuba, Kurdistan. Significant exhibitions have been at Widener University, Delaware Center for Contemporary Art, National Museum of American Jewish History, Hoyt Institute, Atlantic City Art Center, Sande Webster Gallery, York College, Penn State College, Penna. Academy of Fine Arts, the Print Center, Parallels Gallery, State Museum of Penna., Rosenfeld Gallery, and Robert Roman Gallery. His use of encaustics began in 1998 and continues to be an integral feature of his oeuvre. Reduction and distillation both buries and exposes bits of his images and sentiments infused in the multilayered paintings. Soffer’s use of this ancient technique of hot pigmented wax, through its inherent translucency, supports his vocabulary for expressing space. Space, from the microscopic to the galactic, is a frequent theme.