SELECTED TEXTS & PRESS:
Sharilyn Neidhardt. “Cadences at Equity Gallery,” Art Spiel.org, October 19, 2018.
Excerpt from review: "Cadences, a lovely show in the Equity Gallery curated by Michael Gormley, teases at the language of abstract expressionism without overwhelming the viewer.
In the front room Elizabeth Gilfilen’s large paintings dominate the room in a limited tonal range of mostly one or two colors at a time. Thinly painted layers build up organically on smoothed white canvas surfaces. Lines spider indistinctly outward, branching above and around heavier masses of deeply layered transparent shapes. Biological forms ranging from forested landscapes to microscopic cells, rise to meet the viewer and just as quickly dissipate in the playful brushwork. The uniformly white ground of these paintings make them feel a lot like drawings, a comparison that the artist herself makes. But the paint here is allowed to show off its own specific qualities and the work stays grounded in the world of painting. Though amorphous, there is a clear method to Gilfilen’s process and she invites the observer to follow along. Shapes reach out to each other, yearning, like weightless arabesques in open air. The atmosphere created by Gilfilen’s paintings is curious and thoughtful, even appetizing. In a few places, paint thinned almost to nothing leaks away from deliberate brushstrokes, thirsty and wandering, highlighting the texture of the canvas and the willful nature of an artist’s materials.”
Reynolds Gallery, Shorthand, solo exhibition, Richmond, VA, July 12 - August 31, 2018
Excerpt from press release: "Gilfilen paints evocative and simultaneously sophisticated, atmospheric oil paintings. Her abstractions embrace spontaneity and gesture, as well as thought and contemplation. Starting with an untouched ground, Gilfilen applies washes of pigment that concurrently retreat and advance, often unfurling into brushy, gestural markings. Here, the notation is of primary concern. Fluctuating in vehemence, each mark evidences the artist’s hand— purposive, spontaneous, and altogether present. Movement is omnipresent. Gilfilen's restrained color palette amplifies this immediacy, inviting the viewer to discover something previously unrealized—a nebulous form, an abstracted landscape, a faintly familiar visage— a refreshing ambiguity that makes Gilfilen's work both delightful and challenging."
"After a period exploring the notion of restraint–paring down her palette and limiting the number of marks–Elizabeth Gilfilen has returned to epic struggle. In her pulsating new large-scale canvases, Gilfilen pits clashing colors against one another in snaking layers and agitated line, filling once pristine areas with murky, mark-cancelling clots of paint. She is a painter who thrives on struggle, and during these tumultuous times Gilfilen’s brand of angst and intensity seems just right."
Reynolds Gallery, Summer Steals, Richmond, VA, June 1 – July 14, 2017
Excerpt from press release: "Gilfilen creates volatile and simultaneously sophisticated, atmospheric works. With loose waves of pigment alongside tighter line markings, her strokes embrace a sense of frenzy, allowing abstractions of figures, trees, and unknown forms to emerge."
Brendan Carroll. “Elizabeth Gilfilen: Nightcrawler,” brendanscottcarroll.wordpress.com, February 3, 2016.
Excerpt from blogpost: "Gilfilen’s dynamic compositions with no fixed viewpoint are animated. The paint roils and seethes across the surface in seemingly perpetual motion. Within the picture plane, intersecting lines and conflicting colors create an undeniable energy. These paintings appear as a conflagration, a dustup, and an apparition. The eye rarely has a place to rest. Within the melee, a form may emerge: an insect, bones, or a tree. One of the joys experienced when looking at Gilfilen’s paintings is wrestling between two forces: On the one hand, viewers may try to identify a recognizable shape; on the other hand, they may find themselves just taking in the painting itself, surrendering to the spectacle. Gilfilen is aware of the seemingly contradictory forces in her work, and how they may undo or undermine each other."
Trestle Gallery, Breathing Room, Brooklyn, NY, May 15 – June 19, 2015
”Elizabeth Gilfilen begins each of her paintings with a loose, fluid line, instigating a conversation between the material and a seismic mapping of thought. She uses the basic reading of line as a compass, or guide, to determine which move comes next. As she works, the line deviates, sprouting off to create appendages and more fragmented forms. Formal simplicity and spatial complexity jostle for dominance, and a unique, temporal structure emerges. Through this process, each painting becomes a visual echo tying together layers of time.”
Anne Russinof. "Mind's Eye (or Ten Ways to Float)," Curating Contemporary, September 2014.
"Ethereal and buoyant, or sensual and physical: the two tendencies are seemingly at odds. All four attributes are inherent in these selected works by Andrea Belag, Emily Berger, Rick Briggs, Denise Gale, Elizabeth Gilfilen, Zachary Keeting, Victor Kord, Paul Pagk and Susan Wanklyn. I became curious about the high-wire acts of these artists when some of my own gesture-based abstractions became unmoored from the edges of the canvas. These painters make the physicality of their marks the prime subject while liberating their forms to float freely. All of their work is animated by a love of gesture, and the use of negative space to set it off. As such, they all share a certain graphic quality but never yield completely to flatness; evidence of the hand is always present. Belag, Keeting, Berger, Wanklyn and Pagk use negative space to invite a conversation between their structures. Briggs, Kord, Gale and Gilfilen allow a single form to take center stage, no matter the degree of complexity. These painters create images that stick to the mind’s eye, almost like an after-image, ephemeral but solid."
Paul Behnke. “Studio Visit w/ Elizabeth Gilfilen,” Structure and Imagery, July 9, 2014.
"Gilfilen paints large canvases with striking, sophisticated color palettes and seemingly frenzied paint application that make an urgent case for the continued relevancy of gestural abstraction. The scrawled marks congeal to form imposing masses, that provide the structure and focus of the compositions, then break away again into hazy fields of color or interlacing tendrils. At times Gilfilen's colors are inviting, and in another work, they can be heavy and disturbing but there is always a sense of movement and even beauty in the paintings. The placement of color combined with a variety of surface holds the gaze and promises new discoveries upon each subsequent viewing. This attention to surface quality and variation (technique) is something that is hard won through hours of attention and studio time."
The Hunterdon Museum of Art, Solo exhibition, Clinton, NJ, February 5 - March 25, 2012
Excerpt from press release: "To Elizabeth Gilfilen, the blank canvas is an urgent lure. She doesn’t want to begin; she has to begin. Gilfilen starts her paintings by setting up an atmospheric color that defines the mood of the work. Without a defined palette for each piece, she reacts to the fields of color as she works and selectively integrates new hues that expand on the expected potential color combinations. Gilfilen uses color to provoke our private discomforts and public visual pleasures. Her paintings share a sense of immediacy, a result of her style of creating art that reflects her openness to chance and accident.
Elizabeth Gilfilen is also uniquely interested in spatial complexity and layering. Her generous use of negative space serves to enhance the raw power that comes from the core of the painting. While the activity within Gilfilen’s paintings can be fierce and active, a closer look reveals great restraint and a very concise, specific set of visual cues that she uses to create these abstract representations. Her paintings can appear volatile and deliberate at the same time and piecing that puzzle together results in paintings that are anything but arbitrary."
Excerpt from press release: "These visceral paintings embrace the magnetic tie between maker and object. A frequent, rhythmic approach to painting creates a physical and psychological bond with the work. For Elizabeth, painting is a collision of two entities, which are engaged in an alternating power struggle. The title of this exhibit, “Two Moons,” refers to recent evidence that the earth once had two orbiting masses that became unstable and merged into one. Like the gravitational pull of two bodies in an awkward negotiation, this series of large-scale works capture a compression of time and energy. Through an aggressive search and discovery, multiple approaches to the painting cast a truce between temporal structure and corporeal desire."
Sharon L Butler. “Elizabeth Gilfilen: Pugilist Painter,” Two Coats of Paint.com, November 16, 2011.
"For Elizabeth Gilfilen painting is a collision, an aggressive search in which the object and maker are intimately, irrevocably entwined. Gilfilen's exploration of piercing color and gestural abstraction continues in her exhibition of new large-scale work at Gallery Aferro this month. In many of her untitled paintings (sorry I can't refer to specific ones) Gilfilen wrestles images from a thicker scrum of agitated brushwork than in previous work, but in other less vigorously-worked paintings like "Sit" and "Cricket Fix" a more relaxed direction emerges. Gilfilen is the opposite of a casualist--clearly she likes a good skirmish--and her new paintings look terrific--bolder and more challenging than earlier work. "Two Moons," the title of the exhibition, refers to recent evidence that the earth used to have two orbiting masses which eventually became unstable and merged into one. But I imagine they didn't go without a long and interesting struggle."
Benjamin Genocchio. “A Show Goes Heavy on a Traditional Medium Yet Feels Fresh,” The New York Times, Jan. 4, 2009.
Excerpt from review: "Art as a form of writing seems to lie behind much of the abstract art that is assembled for the exhibition, some of it quite good. Jim Hett's eye-popping, odd mixed-media drawing, "They're All the Same Except They're All Different" (1998-2008), presents a dense accretion of colored lines slowly built up in a cumulative process over long periods of time. It is casual yet obsessive; art as daily ritual. The same calligraphic quality underlies Beth Gilfilen's abstract painting, "The Big Hunch" (2008), which is based on exploratory, expressionistic drawing. She paints with no fixed or prescribed ideas in mind, simply allowing the imagery to develop and unravel intuitively. The results are lyrical, colorful and fun, but also startlingly strange. They even suggest an alchemical process."
Rocío Aranda-Alvarado. Exhibition essay, The Jersey City Museum@The Majestic, Jersey City, NJ, 2007
Excerpt: "In the tradition of intuitive abstractionists like Jackson Pollock and Cy Twombly, Beth Gilfilen’s paintings present lines, forms and colors that are immediate, each gaining the attention of the spectator. The artist also shares with these historic figures a taste for works that share significant conversations, that are statements about space and surface and about the relationships between these.
The artist begins her canvases by drawing lines, often parallel, in liquid paint. From here, her internal rhythms take over, marking the development of everyday life as it meanders across time, through vivid journeys that are simultaneously familiar and repetitive, foreign and unexpected. These seeming contradictions are important for the artist, who strives to address opposing forces and paradoxes in her works.
The significance of colors and their place next to each other is apparent. Together with these works, the artist also makes collaged works from paint samples. Cutting them into shapes reminiscent of Mayan stone carvings, the artist covers entire walls with her colorful forms that lay over one another. Colors in the same family are close together, marking their space both physically and conceptually. The relationship between both bodies of work is apparent, as color, line and form all play considerable roles."
Todd Gibson. “A Different Sort of Summer Group Show,” From the Floor, July 12, 2005.
"Across the gallery, Beth Gilfilen’s quiet and still three-dimensional installation of cut and drawn-upon commercial paint chips sits firmly within the body of work emerging in recent years that will be seen by future art historians as having meaningfully expanded the possibilities for the medium of drawing."
Joyce Korotkin. “Hot & Sticky,” The New York Art World, pg. 18-19. July 2001.
Excerpt from review: "Elizabeth Gilfilen's exuberant, surprisingly appealing jumble of expressionist brushwork and tangled, dripped swaths of brilliant color (sky blues against burgundies) elegantly recapitulates the abstract language of luminaries such as Joan Mitchell, Mark Rothko and Willem de Kooning, without borrowing too much."
Richard Roth. Catalog essay for MFA Thesis Exhibition, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, 2001.
"Elizabeth Gilfilen conflates abstract expressionist painting, the nervous system, and digital/medical imaging in completely fresh and unexpected ways. The beauty of her painting is most uncanny – it is the beauty of virtuoso painting in the age of the internet and the MRI. And Elizabeth reminds us that painting has always been a kind of cosmic lie detector."