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Interpreting Their World: Varujan Boghosian, Carmen Cicero, Elspeth Halvorsen and Paul Resika

Exhibition Dates: August 29 – December 1, 2019

Varujan Boghosian, Carmen Cicero, Elspeth Halvorsen, and Paul Resika have had a long association with the Provincetown art colony. All in their 90s, they continue to make vigorous contributions to the vitality of the art community. Their works move in a forward progression to new approaches as they explore their world. Their reputations go well beyond Cape Cod to major art centers, where they have been recognized for their creative and distinctive impact on the art of our time. To celebrate them, the Cape Cod Museum of Art has put together this exhibition of their work, which is notable for its innovation and particularly for its diversity.

Boghosian first came to Provincetown in 1948; it was there that he discovered beachcombing, and his art with found objects was born. Always an inveterate collector, he searches antique shops, yard sales, and flea markets for anything that strikes his fancy, something that will connect with the viewer, either as an allusion to something familiar or with the potential to amuse, puzzle, or astound. His collages, assemblages, and constructions are often inspired by images by an artist he admires or words by a poet that are meaningful to him. He delights in unpredictable, ambiguous, and paradoxical juxtapositions of ordinary, old, and weathered objects to express new ideas, forms, or meanings. By bringing together the commonplace, he creates uncommon images, which create new ways of looking at the world.

Like so many artists of his era, Cicero was an Abstract Expressionist when he began painting, but he soon moved on to a fierce figurative expressionism in bold colors. These paintings often depict conflict. They are intense and sometimes violent. In the ‘90s, his art became quieter, calmer. He calls these paintings “visionary.” In their exquisite details and reflective mood, they are dreamlike, mysterious, and enigmatic. Cicero has been part of the Provincetown art scene since the 1960s. He was a member of the prestigious Long Point Gallery, active from 1977 to 1998, along with Robert Motherwell, Boghosian and Resika, among others. In the last year, he has returned to his earlier work in vibrant colors, but the subjects have dispensed with the angst and have a humorous or amusing aspect with many narrative possibilities.

Provincetown is often an inspiration for Halvorsen’s box constructions. Along with her late husband artist Tony Vevers, she has had a home in the town since the 1950s. Found objects and ones she creates are represented in her constructions. Her boxes, inhabited by elements from the real world, are either directly connected to the object itself or have a symbolic meaning. Her works can be viewed as miniature stage sets and often represent what she sees around her in Provincetown, but is certainly not limited to that. Halvorsen’s rich imagination is often influenced by social and political concerns. Philosophical and psychological explorations are embodied in assemblages that are sometimes haunting and almost always mysterious.

During Resika’s long career, he has moved through a variety of styles and approaches. In the 1940s, he studied with Hans Hofmann in New York and Provincetown. Abandoning early abstract works, he went to Europe, and was influenced by Renaissance masters. Returning to America in 1953, Abstract Expressionism was in full swing, but Resika maintained his focus on representational paintings, subtly shaded and fluid landscapes, which show the influences of nineteenth-century painters. In the 1970s, his colors brightened and in the 1980s, he began to simplify his objects to iconic images representing Provincetown’s piers, buildings on MacMillan Wharf, boats, and cottages. Figures, landscapes, and flowers are often subjects of his works, which are beautifully expressed in their simplicity as images with universal references.

As you explore this exhibition, we hope you will appreciate the richness and distinctive approaches to the art represented by the works of these four artists, who have found inimitable ways to interpret their world.

-- Deborah Forman

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