Serena Stevens Paintings & Pastel Drawings
Born: Surrey, England, UK
Studied at: Reigate School of Art and Design, Surrey, UK
Diplomas gained: Fine Art & Foundational Studies, HSD Graphic Design & Illustration
Has lived in Bahrain since 1987 and now a full-time artist
• ARTISTS STATEMENT:
Influenced by Turner, Rothko and other American Colour Field painters, seascapes, the wilderness and wide, open spaces, are reflected in often rigid, horizontal lines and bands that form the basis of my painting. Though rarely able to actually immerse myself in such environments, an instinctive desire provokes an emotional response to their remoteness, beauty and fragility. I paint from memory allowing my imagination to bind past or recent experiences of unseen rhythms and nuances into spontaneously and intuitively made abstract and semi- abstract, contemporary landscapes.
The self-reflective nature of my work is frequently expressed through a monochromatic palette and whilst I like to experiment with other mediums my preference is for soft chalk pastel and its sensual tactility. The luminosity of pastel, even when painting subtle hues and minimal blends, results in deep, resonant colour giving my drawings and paintings an intense sense of quietetude in which I seek to reveal the inner life of nature by reducing it to its purest form.
Beginning with a single horizontal line I have no fixed idea about where that line will lead. My paintings are rarely planned but the direction takes a natural path dictated by the material’s random response to my actions. Every new mark explores a different possibility until a crucial point is reached - the process is then controlled and intentional until the desired outcome is finally achieved.
Acting as an imaginary balancing bar, the horizontal line, which has been imprinted on my psyche since childhood and inspired by 1950’s contemporary design expresses expansiveness and order, whilst the addition of vertical strokes and marks suggest barriers still to be overcome. My work is allegorical. Each new piece reveals more than merely shifting patterns of nature; duality, humanity and the perpetual flux of existence emerge for consideration.
'Abstraction is evident in Serena’s work. Her love of organic minimalism and natural rhythms and patterns are revealed in the elimination of the unnecessary allowing only what is essential to remain. “My working method is almost sculptural” she says. “I scrape, spread, blend, burnish, scratch, stab, smooth and sometimes even tear at the medium I’m working on, creating then destroying then creating again in a continuously evolving process". Serena’s paintings could be described as landscapes, but only in the loosest sense of the word, to her they are abstract ideas that reflect an interest in duality and ecological concerns.
Serena doesn’t just paint what she sees; feelings, memories and ideas associated with places and experiences flow onto paper or canvas too, “I have no preconceived idea of how the painting will end or where my actions will take me, it’s a totally spontaneous use of the materials and their response to the process, sometimes under control and at other times quite out of my control”. The point at which chaos is harnessed and equilibrium is restored, with the addition of an often subdued palette, creates the critical essence of her work, a sense of tranquility through adversity.'
- Melissa van Maasdyk
'Serena Stevens paints semi-abstract landscapes with a tranquil, unabashed minimalism that belies a searing intensity lurking just below the surface. The gentleness of her paintings acts as a facade for an almost taunting sense of paradox that challenges the viewer to peel away the layers. Much like Stevens hereself, her paintings' apparent serenity proves a superficial cover for a complex layering of concepts.'
Due to the very nature of her introspective creative process, much of what Stevens thinks and feels is reflected in her work. Highly sensitive and in tune with her surroundings... she attempts to make a statement about the environment and its ability to recover, which although astoundingly and seemingly miraculous at times, is not unlimited.'
- Sulaf Zakharia
• EXHIBITIONS & EVENTS:
Member of: Elham Arts Group, Bahrain, Bahrain Fine Arts Society, (APS) Awali Photographic Society,
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All Images © Serena Stevens.
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