The Works Of Glen Gebulash At Sinclair
It has been a most entrancing trip to observe the surefooted and gradual evolution of the interlocking forms in the work of Dayton painter Glen Cebulash. Always in the past interfacing the references of figural interactions with structural abstraction, his paintings and collages have merged their techniques together in ineffable ways, as beautifully demonstrated in his current exhibition at the Triangle Gallery of Sinclair Community College running through Thursday, November 18.
“Beginning in the year 2000,” observes Cebulash, “I began a gradual shift in the direction and emphasis of my painting. Until that time my work had primarily concerned itself with observation-based themes of landscape, still life, and portraiture. While I maintain an abiding interest in and love for traditional subjects and practices, I have become convinced of the fact that I am temperamentally, and otherwise, a studio painter, interested in the nexus between memory and plastic imagination and committed to a largely abstract language of forms.”
In much the same way that Arshile Gorky and other early Abstract Expressionists subsumed the human form into a mesh of expressive construction, Cebulash has experimented with abstract form language to capture what he calls “the figure in the interior.” This is the outcome of an almost purely improvisational approach which recalls the free-flowing but contained cut paper works of Matisse and the anthropomorphic gentle presences of the inhabitants of worlds by Miro and Jean Arp, without the reliance on strong and brilliant color.
Indeed, the structural collages of Cebulash evolve in earth tones and warm grays as in the vertical interlocking elements of one untitled collage with its soft wedges and arcs of blue and creamy yellow against a brown armature. Elsewhere, shadowed gray forms within lighter grays and white expanses are accented by cups of warm sienna and pale blue, as they form an abstracted still life with steel blue and charcoal gray areas.
These collages are, in a profound sense, deconstructed paintings composed of painted fragments cut and recomposed into unique relationships and created precisely for the role they will play in the final exposition. At some points they vibrate with the lyrical sense of forms in a Braque still life where fruit, urns and guitars are only subliminally suggested. At other times, the acrylic surfaces imparted by Cebulash to certain edges and shapes become even more painterly as he applies oil and cold wax directly on canvas.
“I build spatial and figurative structures out of color relationships and gestural marks,” writes Cebulash, “Often, pieces begin with only a hint of a plan. Forms are added, erased and reevaluated and the architecture is constantly rearranged to accommodate the ever-changing population of figures.”
This constant searching and evolving becomes more transparent in the black-and-white collages shown by Cebulash in this exhibition. Here, intricate structures are built with intense and energetic crosshatching ink lines which determine textural shapes and surfaces complete with gradations and darker more delineated forms. The constant flux of imagistic changes is emphasized by working processes which include collaged paper fragment sketches and lines or shapes demolished or deemphasized by Wite-Out, a correction fluid used here much as white chalk might obscure charcoal lines in a drawing.
White bone-like armatures and surfaces are interfaced with dark spherical presences and dense mesh-like walls, while other textural spreads seem to create a moiré-like visual patina. None of this is blatant but sensitively poised in a structural balance that both entertains the eye with its subtle variations while holding its own as a discrete structure. These “image of energy” pictures are very much what Cebulash seeks with their “insistent musical rhythms, and a psychological and formal tension that develops from the collision of abstract and
Concurrent with Cebulash’s exhibition in the Triangle Gallery are the selections “From Walking” by Francis Schanberger, who received two Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Awards (including one in 2009), in the neighboring Works on Paper Gallery. Schanberger famously recounts how his month of misery from exposure to pollen during most of April had brought him to the examination of parts of trees, flowers, pollen, leaves and seeds which may have been influential to his ailment.
In past works, Schanberger has focused on close-ups of these samples and cuttings, but in this latest exposition has formed large matrices of 12 to 16 images, scanned into a computer “made into transparencies and printed in the Van Dyke Brown process on a Japanese Kozu Unryu paper.” These larger matrices have a lyrical power as they represent “Flowers from a Cigar Tree”(twelve images), “Two Leaves (Secret Hiding Place)” in horizontal red, “Roots with Dirt Clumps in 16 Places” (sixteen square modules), and a vertical matrix of 14 “Tree Bark in 14 pieces as My Height.” Schanberger celebrates “the smallest parts of which in the spring can be a humbling force of nature.”
The Triangle Gallery and the Works on Paper Gallery are located in Building 13 of Sinclair Community College at the corner of Fifth and Perry Streets in downtown Dayton. Gallery hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. For more information, call (937) 512-2253 or visit
critic Jud Yalkut