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Solo exhibit opens Oct. 8 at FGCU Art Gallery

This fall, FGCU students can experience a solo exhibition from a University of Wisconsin-Madison art professor, Timothy L. Solien. The exhibit pays great attention to painting, sculpture and combined-created works and touches on rich animation and surreal imagery.

His varied artworks render toward his everyday inspirations.

“I am inspired by news stories, American history, the history of art, lives of other artists, things that I collect like folk art and curious objects and my own real life experience,” Solien said. “Sometimes, all of these things exist in reference within the studio process and real-life issues on the media and culture.”

Most of his work contains figural beings, more or less human.

“That is a constant in my work,” Solien said. “These figures are often self-referential or refer to a relationship which exists in real life. Sometimes, they are modeled after masterworks of art, and sometimes, I invent the context in which they occur. Recently, I have begun to use references to vintage lawn ornaments in the figural undertakings. The specific meaning of these figures is still vague to me, but I guess I mean them to refer to human beings in general even though they aren’t realistically human.”

Solien said that all of his work is about the struggles to exist as a human being and the difficulty of facing all of the forces that we face on a daily basis.

“Recently, I have been exploring the decline of the intellectual culture and the expanding domination of popular culture,” Solien said. “Not that they are completely mutually exclusive, but that broad entertainment values have displaced the role of intellectual culture to teach as well as provide a template of real human experience.”

With his wide collection of works, venues such as the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and the American Center in Paris are only some of the places he has showcased his work.

“Yesterday, It Was Sunny,” the solo exhibit at FGCU, was curated by John Loscuito, the FGCU art director.

“Solien generates all of his ideas and pieces in this exhibit from his interest in ‘Moby Dick’ and the contemporary book ‘Ahab’s Wife,’” Loscuito said. “When entering into the exhibit, the right side displays a wall that consists of approximately 80 collages from his artwork. Most of them are direct-use materials of paper, paint and cardboard structure that include a variety of characters such as animals — cats and dogs — and people. The influenced characters help the viewer to understand Solien’s character development. His character development is complex but fun at the same time, which helps to inform the composition of the paintings due to some of his characters continuing on a path with his other medians.”

Solien said the figural collages have been contributing a lot to his painting process.

“Without that constant, everything would be different,” he said.

For example, a dog, cat or a person in the collage may appear consistently in his other paintings, much like the cop shown in various paintings. The cop can be seen in different forms of medians and materials that help symbolize growth and character development due to the cop continuing a journey in each painting. The cop is becoming richer in each piece as well.

The painting “Small Room” portrays a piece of Solien’s everyday life.

The painting was made with the intention of attempting to construct a small, living space, which was imagined to be occupied by Ahab, the compulsive and self-possessed captain in “Moby Dick.” The letter ‘A’ on the hand towel symbolizes Ahab.

“I imagined him to be too preoccupied with his own neurotic tendencies to keep his cabin clean and orderly,” he said. “I wanted to suggest that someone has just left the room and that the chaos of the room is the residue of his absence from everyday life.

“If left to my own devices, my world slowly becomes utterly disorganized,” Solien said. “My wife refers to me as being a hoarder, but I don’t think it’s as bad as that. Of course, all hoarders say that, I’m sure.”

Solien explained how he came up with the title for his painting, “Squatter.” “The title, ‘Squatter,’ is the result of thinking of myself as occupying a residence that doesn’t belong to me (i.e. the Hopper Landscape) and also the inherent body language of the squatting figure.”

Solien will also be coming in to some of the studio art classes to critique some of the students’ artwork. So, not only is Solien appearing as a guest, but he is also using his teaching skills to aid art students here at FGCU.

“The path to professionalism itself is extremely difficult to reach and sustain,” Solein said. “It takes complete commitment and cannot be reached if it is a second or third priority in life. It’s too hard to find satisfaction, too hard to find acceptance, too hard to reach a level where a life can be sustained through art-making alone, too hard to endure the isolation of the studio and too hard to look into your own psyche day after day after day. Most people cannot deal with a life of disappointment, limited income, emotional stress and the entire negative, which outnumbers the positive by 100 to one. So, you better be committed and have a backup plan.”

Don’t miss out on Solien’s exhibit at the Main Art Gallery Oct. 8 through Nov. 14. There will also be a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 8, in the painting studio.

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