Villanova, PA—The Villanova University Art Gallery will present Line, Form, and Color: Evolving through the Years, a retrospective solo show by Miami-based, Colombian-born artist Salomon Khammi, on display May 2 – September 29, 2019. The exhibit spans a diverse 15-year artistic career and includes two distinct media—acrylic on canvas and encaustic wax on wood panel—in a wide variety of sizes. Yet all 62 paintings in the exhibition are connected by a mastery of line and color that is sometimes playful, sometimes sensuous, often moving, and always insightful.
The Art Gallery will host a reception to meet the artist on Thursday, May 2 from 5-7pm. The Gallery is located in the Connelly Center on the Villanova campus. Convenient on-campus parking is available. More information is available on the gallery’s website at www.artgallery.villanova.edu.
Before turning to art full-time, Khammi was an architect. He graduated from the University in Bogotá in 1998 with a degree in architecture then studied Design at the Polytechnic Institute in Milan. He credits his architectural background with providing “the tools to create my artistic interpretations of what surrounds me. Form, line and color have always been very important to me as the genesis of design. All my life I’ve sketched lines in the form of bridges, skyscrapers, etc. Now those have evolved into a geometric artistic concept.”
Perhaps equally important to Khammi’s style is his sense of place. Born in Colombia, Khammi traveled throughout South America as a young person, accompanying his father as he collected pre-Columbian artifacts. After his training in Milan, he returned to Colombia to begin his architectural career, but found the political and cultural climates hostile and unstable. Khammi sought freedom from those limitations in North America. He moved first to Miami Beach, then Philadelphia and Toronto, where he lived for 10 years before returning to Miami.
As his personal journey has unfolded, Khammi has tended to produce series of paintings that share themes, styles, and color palettes. Form, Line and Color: Evolving Through the Years will include selections from his various series that, taken together, illuminate the experience of an immigrant and an artist in search of freedom, happiness, and his true home. He feels that in Miami, he has found what he was searching for. He says, “I love to live here. I feel freer. I think that’s the important thing. Happiness has come back to me, after many years in the long grey winters. When I moved to Miami four years ago, I started to paint in the colors I see here in south Florida—like blues, greens and yellows and oranges, and I changed my palette, from Toronto to here. I think it’s part of my evolution. When you are in different environments, I think you start to do something completely different. I always felt the deep desire to come back [to Miami], and I think the entire universe confabulates.”
One of Khammi’s earliest series, titled “Primeval” (acrylic on canvas), feels both ancient and modern, echoing the folk art traditions of South America and mesmerizing the viewer with intricate geometric designs-within-designs. His three separate “Visage” series (encaustic on wood panel) track the artist’s exploration of himself, using human shapes—specifically faces or masks—that alternately settle into orderly grids in greys and blues and explode with vivid reds, pinks, and greens. Khammi’s series “School” (encaustic on wood panel) is the artist’s response to the influence of fracking on Canadian lands, featuring the deep blues and icy greys of a long, cold Canadian winter. Its lines snake across the panels like frozen rivers, sometimes split by vertical intrusions. “Arkitectonika” (acrylic on canvas), Khammi’s first series painted in Miami, brims with happy, playful energy, pulling in the warm yellow of sunshine, the vibrant blue of the ocean, plus green, orange, and other hues in sharp, clean, geometric juxtapositions.
Visitors who are not familiar with the encaustic wax medium will have a rich introduction through Line, Form and Color. The ancient technique requires the artist to heat beeswax to high temperatures and combine it with oil paint, applying it to wood panel in layers. Khammi learned to work with encaustic wax when after he had moved to Toronto. He says, “The encaustic provides something very special in every single painting, because it’s very translucent, and you can see how many layers of wax the painting contains. I find it mesmerizing. In person, it’s very tactile.” His studio in Miami is not yet set up to accommodate encaustic painting, so he is currently working in acrylic on wood. The immediacy of acrylic in comparison to encaustic is one more reason that Khammi’s most recent paintings have an immediate, more buoyant feel.
The Villanova University Art Gallery is open weekdays from 9 a.m. -11 p.m. For extended and weekend hours, and other information, contact the Art Gallery at (610) 519-4612. More information is available on the Gallery's website: www.artgallery.villanova.edu.