4355 Orchard Street
Philadelphia, PA 19124
One of the rewards for keeping a gallery going for a long time and certainly one of my greatest pleasures as an art dealer is the opportunity of working with the same artists over an extended period of time. I feel privileged to have been a close witness to Val Rossman’s steady development as an artist during the past sixteen years as evidenced by her seven solo shows here. In that time she has developed a clear and authentic voice, establishing herself as an important regional artist.
When I first saw her work she had just changed from painting in oils to making pastels her major media. Over the years she has developed personal ways of using the chalk that imparts a signature luminosity to her work. She has developed and constantly refines a personal vocabulary of forms that are nonobjective and are not meant to be read symbolically. Her work has the lyricism and cadences of visual music.
This body of work that includes oil paintings on metal sheets, represents another leap forward in imagery as swell as technique. Rossman’s usual forms seem to be dissolving into cascades of repeated marks, more evocative of force fields than of individual shapes floating in space, more reminiscent of the over-all feeling of Pollack than the intentionally directed compositions of Gorky. The lyricism remains and is energized with a delightful, pulsating energy.
The Rosenfeld Gallery - 2005
Entering Val Rossman’s studio I was bowled over by the explosion of energy in the pastel drawings created by this seemingly mild mannered artist. I was not prepared for the cacophony of color and exuberant mark making that make up her latest body of work.
Rossman’s pastel works are a chaotic blend of chance and careful planning, a process she views as a metaphor for life. She has always been intrigued by color, and the choice sets the mood for each piece. Each drawing is a map leading us on an adventure of color, mark and space. What used to be lyrical explorations in gorgeous color and controlled line are now wild trips of intentional dissonance and frantic gestures. Her marks have become very aggressive and expressive. Val ‘Rossman is not afraid to go into dark places -
Rpossman enjoys the immediacy of working in pastel. She becomes another element in the medium: chalk, paper, artist’s hand. Each work contains layer upon layer of pastel. She manipulates and massages the color into the paper, and rubs more color over that. She draws and makes marks. Ghosts of lines peek through. The archeology emerges. She may do something unexpected-a gash here, a slash of “ugly” color there.
Her basic vocabulary is a cross cultural dictionary full of symbols, like petroglyphs from ancient cultures. There are zigzags, spirals, and letters, the very basis for man’s earliest communication. A checkerboard represents a homey environment where people play games. A surprising red fork and spoon illustrate the simple pleasures of life, like a meal with the family. Dots are like footprints, and represent travel. A sense of whimsy has always been evident in Rossman’s work, but these new pieces have a rawness that speaks to a more aggressive and assertive side.
Rossman now takes risks that she never took before. With maturity comes a confidence, a “joie de vivre” that is fun, frivolous, and very exciting.
Independent Curator - 1999