Art has a way of getting things out of the system. A purging of emotions, such as love, grief and anger and joy. It frees the soul. That was the approach Russian-born artist Ludmilia Pawlowska took when she used the death of her mother in 1997 as the trigger to transform her work by taking it to a new spiritual level. The result is “Icons in Transformation,” a staggering show of 140 pieces on display at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center through June 27.
Pawlowska, a Kazakhstan native living in Sweden, described her work as a blend of painting and sculpture, or 3-D painting, with a deeply spiritual feel. “My work explores what it means to be known, seen and loved by God, and I try in my own way to create light and the divine visible,” she said.
Pawlowska used the traditional icon symbolism of colors, such as gold for light, red represents love and blood, while blue denotes the sky. Influenced by painter Henri Matisse, who also used icons in his work, Pawlowska’s abstract contemporary works include unorthodox materials, like fine cloth, 500-million year old stones and even bullets. She included 15 icon paintings created by artists from the Vassilevsky Monastery in Russia as part of the exhibit giving viewers examples of traditional icon paintings. Central Texas College art professor, Dr. Wynnona Alexander said viewers need to take their time to let the pieces work on them and be seduced by Pawlowska’s unique work. “The gorgeous materials, the vitality of the colors energize you the longer you stay with them,” said Alexander, professor emeritus and instructor of art metals at Central Texas College.
Some of the pieces are huge, 8-feet tall, with bold imagery of human eyes, angels and Jesus Christ creates an overall physical presence that is breath-taking. Other paintings contain open spaces that draw viewers inside the works for an introspective experience. The art show toured cathedrals and museums throughout Europe and Great Britain for a decade, and so far, 20 states during the last five years, including a recent show in Temple. But when a venue canceled, leaving Pawlowska with three-months to fill, she was forced to find another Texas location fast. That’s when Connie Kuehl, director of Killeen Civic and Conference Center, stepped in to bring the exhibit to town. “It is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see world-class art in Central Texas,” Kuehl said. The conference center quickly transformed itself in only one week to display the works that grace the lobby and hallways, making Killeen the final stop in Texas before the show heads to California.
The art exhibit is free. Killeen Civic and Conference Center, 3601 South W. S. Young Drive, Killeen, TX 76542, Hours: Mon-Fri, 8 am to 5 pm. For more information, call (254) 501-3888.
By Val Valdez