Turning to the Sun by Promila Sen
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Turning to the Sun by Promila Sen

Wilson artists showcase their work at Wesleyan

By Tyler Kes
Staff Writer

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The newest exhibit at N.C. Wesleyan College’s Mims Gallery, features two artists, who years after meeting and becoming friends, now will showcase their similar and complementary art styles.

“Separate Path, Same Journey,” opens Friday and features almost 60 pieces from John A. Hancock and Promila Sen.

“Both are strong artists, and both work in water color medium,” gallery curator Everett Adelman said. “Hancock does constructions, as well as straight forward paintings, and he likes to juxtapose images with formal design elements, like rectangles that are painted solid. I think it makes you think of space, architecture and our relationship with space and architecture.”

Sen, on the other hand, prefers to work more with mixed media, such as including elements of photography and crayons into her works, while also delving into abstractionism, Adelman said.

Despite these differences, Adelman said there are enough similarities between the two that putting them in the same exhibit makes sense.

“They both will take off in formal directions,” he said. “Watercolor seems to be the foundations for both artists. They share that foundation. They also share a similar spirit that they are unafraid to go after in a formal direction. She will go after it in a mixed media approach and John Hancock goes after things in a much more formalized approach with these panels. He really thinks of these as sculpture, whereas she thinks of them as being flat works.”

Their long-running friendship also adds to that, Adelman said.

“I would say the thing that really brings them together, besides being friends, which they are, and that is beautiful, is that they both have that foundation,” he said. “They are both watercolorists and they both handle green great, which is wonderful.”

This is not the first time the pair, who met while living in Wilson and became friends over their mutual love of painting with watercolors, has exhibited together, Sen said.

This familiarity with each other’s work helped Sen pick out which of her pieces to use in the gallery, she said.

“I chose works that showed North Carolina because I thought that would make the most sense to match up with John’s art,” she said.

Watercolor is the main choice of medium for both artists, Sen said, because of the freedom it provides the artist , and the ease it gives her to move from abstraction to reality and back.

“I like watercolor because of its transparency and transparent nature,” she said. “It gives me an opportunity to explore and lends itself to abstraction. It is very spontaneous.”

Sen said she also likes to use items such as paper, old letters and photographs in her works, working nature and mythological motifs into her works.

Hancock also uses nature effectively, but focuses more on using negative space to highlight the color in nature, Adelman said.

“There are two ways of going about watercolor,” he said. “There is the orthodox method, which is a very conservative approach to watercolor, where less is more. The fewer strokes you make, the stronger the painting is. His paintings certainly are conservative technically, and that is what makes them vital as watercolors. Another stroke would wreck the painting. The open space works. Sometimes he does not even finish filling in a leaf because the statement says enough. These things are very economically painted.”

The gallery, which is located inside the Dunn Center for the Performing Arts, is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to noon Saturday.

The exhibit will be at the gallery until Sept. 28.