Susan Eley Fine Art is proud to exhibit recent paintings by Andrew Hildenbrand and Carlos Puyol.

Making his debut at SEFA, Hildenbrand’s textural abstractions hum with life alongside Puyol’s energetic and fluid canvases. Hildenbrand is the youngest artist SEFA has ever featured, having graduated from Pratt in 2023.

This is the sixth exhibition at SEFA’s new gallery in the Lower East Side since the relocation from the Upper West Side, founded in 2006 by Susan Eley. SEFA NYC is now located at 190 Orchard Street in the heart of the LES arts district.

Polyrhythm refers to the simultaneous combination of contrasting rhythms in music. Prominent in Jazz, this term can also be applied to the disparate cadence of these two artists’ works. Puyol’s compositions undulate between soft washes, harsh staccato lines and fast sweeping brushstrokes. Hildenbrand’s impasto constructions play with light and color creating an illusion of movement as if subtly vibrating with energy. Both artists consider their practice adjacent to Jazz and its rhythm and improvisational nature. Puyol listens to Jazz as he paints and allows the music to influence the rhythm he composes within each painting. Hildenbrand references the music style when discussing his process of acting and reacting, each brushstroke, color choice and form influencing the next, in much the same way Jazz musicians plays off of each other.

Working on unstretched canvas or linen, Carlos Puyol begins with a basic sketch before navigating his way through a composition led primarily by color. Blending Abstract Expressionist, Pop Art and Lyrical Abstraction Puyol’s work is in conversation with 20th century artists such as Frank Stella, Vassily Kandinsky, and Jasper Johns. He paints into the canvas with washes of pure color, cutting his own marks short and changing the tempo of the brush.

Puyol creates disruptions, often cutting and then sewing the canvas. Hard and soft edges define the elements of the painting less in terms of shape and more as chromatic moments. Blocks of pure color meet impassioned crescendos of loose brushwork forming disjointed harmonies. Puyol intends for the paintings to exist as evidence of how he sees the world. As he paints, he is capturing another world that he escapes to while working, “While I’m painting, I can stop time and enter into other coordinates of reality. A slower reality, with a human time-space, different from the fast and fragmented existence stimulated by technological advances.”

Enamored with color, Puyol strives to entice one into his conceived world. In works like Untitled 51, swathes of pale peach and white cascade across the canvas, cut by strong linear arches and moments of absence. A deep blue darts and splatters through neighboring peach, ocher and unprimed canvas. Swirls of chartreuse and ocher balance the jewel toned composition. The artist merges negative space with the wall by leaving exposed canvas, forming illusionistic boundaries on the surface and placing primary importance on the palette. Puyol expertly composes tangible symphonies wrought with tension.

For his debut at SEFA, Andrew Hildenbrand presents striking geometric abstract paintings. Recently turning to a more intuitive practice, he takes cues from his surroundings adding one shape or color then responding to that choice in his next. The results are spirited amalgamations of the artist's mind and surrounding world. Hildenbrand paints on wood panels, wanting the paint to sit on top of the surface rather than soak in as with painting on canvas. The artist works to build texture on his substrate. Hildenbrand is interested in the objecthood of an artwork. He describes pulling the panel off the wall and holding it, turning it in his hands, handling it as a whole object rather than a painted image on a surface. His first step is to add a texturizing element to the gesso, ensuring the slight three dimensionality of these paintings. This surface interacts with light and creates a shimmering movement. Because of this Hildenbrand’s shapes are not stagnant, instead a rhythm and energy simmer in the tension between the imperfect forms.

Focused firstly on color, Hildenbrand orchestrates vivid abstractions that harken back to Modern artists like Josef Albers, Kenneth Noland, Paul Klee and Hilma af Klint as well as ancient Greek and Near Eastern patterning, and the Primitivists of the early 20th century. Color is controlled, bound within inexact shapes. Loud, lively compositions pulse with life. Lush foliage and tropical landscapes are suggested by the vivid emeralds and russet earth tones. Teeming with palpable energy the paintings take cues from nature, simplifying and reorganizing its forms. Hildenbrand is influenced by his surroundings but does not wish to emulate space. He instead rides the line between representation and abstraction. The push and pull between the linear and round elements forming a bouncy rhythm that leads one around the composition. While geometric, the work avoids becoming graphic or minimalist, its imperfections and palette enlivening the painting.

Carlos Puyol graduated from the Instituto Universitario Nacional de Arte (IUNA) in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In 2000 he moved to Catalonia to pursue doctorate studies at the Universidad de Barcelona obtaining an MFA with his dissertation: Painting and Physicality. Painting is the artist’s field of work. He examines the expressive and evocative properties of the medium within the contemporary art environment. His work questions the concept of unity in painting, at both the formal and temporal level. His compositional method, based on cuts and interruptions, allows him to join different styles and temporalities on the same canvas while developing a kind of rhizomatic unity.

Carlos has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions both in Spain and abroad. His work is represented in private collections in the United States, Sweden and Netherlands. Puyol was a teacher for painting seminars at the Center d'Art "La rectoria" in Sant Pere de Vilamajor during the summers of 2003, 2004 and 2005.

I have always painted the same thing: a fragmented reality. In the past, I represented the fragments through painted cuts and interruptions. More recently, I have sewn canvases together, joining pieces of different paintings, even photographs of my works from earlier periods. For me, the shards pieced together represent an alternative to the world view that reality is a univocal, coherent, meaningful system, and that time is neatly divided into a continuum of past, present and future. In my view, life is more disjointed and unfettered, time more fluid. I have tried to capture this fragmentation and this fluidity in my work.

(Carlos Puyol)

Originally from Chappaqua, NY, Andrew Hildenbrand is a Brooklyn, NY based painter who received his BFA in painting from the Pratt Institute in 2023. Thinking of his paintings as objects he builds up texture and form, taking cues from each previous mark. Influenced by his environment, the artist straddles the line between abstraction and representation. In his work, Hildenbrand is primarily concerned with the base formal elements of color, form and texture. Methodically building each element in layered strokes of bold color, the artist has recently begun to rely on improvisation and instinct when composing at painting. Hildenbrand has exhibited in solo and group shows throughout New York, though this is his debut with Susan Eley Fine Art.

I am interested in the distillation of reality into its essential colors and forms, balancing the tangible with the intangible. I reference elements of the natural world within much of my work, while staying within the boundaries of a form-based visual language. Color is the principal element within my work. I aim to expose the relational aspects of color that create tension and harmony, and to explore the ways in which these relationships can create surprising and unexpected emotional effects. I am constantly looking to discover the rhythm within each painting that allows the color to speak freely. In this way, painting is like playing jazz. A decision is made with the same spontaneity that a note is played, each color's placement informing the next. The same is true when moving from one painting to another; what is discovered in one painting will inevitably appear in the next. My process involves a delicate balance between intuition and intention. I approach each canvas with an open mind, allowing the painting to evolve organically while maintaining a level of awareness of the desired outcome. In recent work, I am exploring interpretations of my environment through an abstracted, fragmented viewpoint, while emphasizing and reinforcing the use of symbolic and repeated forms. These compositions float between geometric abstraction and representational symbolism. I am interested in this tension, and how I can create work that stands firmly between abstraction and representation.

(Andrew Hildenbrand)