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Posted on Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 7:01 a.m.

WSG Gallery showcasing latest computer artworks of Michelle Hegyi

By John Carlos Cantu

If we think about it at all, we usually think of light changing with our day. But Michelle Hegyi’s exhibit “How the Day Changes with the Light” at the WSG Gallery inverts this nebulous notion.

“I’m drawn every day to chance juxtapositions of light, line, color, brushstrokes,” says this local printmaker about her latest gestural abstract artworks. “Inspired, I start painting with no preconceived idea.

“One line leads to another—one color to another—layer over layer—previous strokes or images combining into one. The pleasure comes in the journey: combining the layers in various ways until it feels just right, traveling through untold iterations of adding and taking away—through complexity to simplicity—it all depends on the particulars of the day I am working. The piece eventually taking shape until finally it feels resolved.”

The 18 artworks in this display have been computer-generated, and the textured layers we find are superimposed in a nuanced manner.


"How the Days Changes with the Light No. 2"

This isn’t too much of a surprise. Having last seen Hegyi’s work in her 2010 “Do You Remember the Shape of Trees....” (also at the WSG Gallery), “How the Day Changes with the Light” is an adaptation of her prior aesthetic. What significantly differs is the tactile generation (and regeneration) of her latest computer-generated art.

Manipulating her gesture through her computer programming, Hegyi varies the tone of her work through her complementary chromaticity. It’s an airy artful gambit whose sophistication is masked by the measured simplicity of her abstraction.

“Much of my work is created on the computer,” says Hegyi, “but (it) has the look and feel of real paint. I find the computer enables me to experiment and to learn from an infinite number of color, value, line and space permutations, still allowing for the history of a piece to show through the layers.

“Using brushstrokes and other elements and sometimes whole layers from previous work helps to connect each work to the other. The happy accidents of chance combinations are an added bonus. In the last few years I have used the encaustic medium to add to the luminous quality of my work.”

Encaustic painting uses heated wax on which colored pigments are added and these elements—sculpted as much as painted—are then applied to the work’s surface before it cools. Add the computer, and you have the shimmering effect to be found in this exhibit.

“In this body of work, Hegyi adds, “digital paint strokes (created on the computer using a pressure-sensitive pen and a tablet) are combined with real paint strokes (that are scanned in through acrylic, encaustic monotype), and then digitally collaged (again using the computer) in translucent layers.

“I then print the piece myself to be sure I'm getting the desired colors, using archival pigment ink on Japanese Unryu paper. Afterwards, I infuse the print with encaustic medium, and paint the back with white acrylic paint. The transparent encaustic medium is critical, enhancing the digital layering, as the light filters through the wax, through the pigment to the acrylic white paint on the back of the piece and then is reflected back through the wax to the viewer.”

The results of her effort are paintings that have a complex, elevated relief. Each artwork has a veiled, lustrous transparency tricking the eye into seeing three dimensions. It's not only a nifty artistic trick, it’s also a harmonious way of depicting an understated temporal change.

Each of these works has its own unique variation. But “How the Day Changes with the Light No.2” illustrates Hegyi’s art at its best.

This painting’s 2-foot-square working surface is a handsome series of planes upon which Hegyi’s experiments seem to float. Its foundation is an indeterminate ground over which other planes hover.

Three foreground planes in “No. 2” in turn brace the painting with two diaphanous turquoise planes set on top of one other, bearing just enough visual weight to ballast the artwork. Yet they paradoxically also have just enough transparency to give the painting an aerial lucidity.

Hegyi’s signature is more properly a rectangle to the left, upon which a series of lines swirl about energetically. And these create yet another foreground spatiality resting on air. In Hegyi’s terms, they’re concretized light changing before our sight.

Pushing and pulling us through its trompe l'oeil spatial depth, “How the Day Changes with the Light No. 2” certainly finds the day changing with the indirect incandescence Hegyi provides. Her art finds poetry in day and light.

“Michelle Hegyi: How the Day Changes with the Light” will continue through Nov. 24 at WSG Gallery, 306 S. Main St. Gallery hours are noon-6 p.m. Tuesday-Wednesday; noon-10 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; and noon-5 p.m. Sunday. For information, call 734-761-2287.



Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 4:32 p.m.

"computer generated", kills it for me. When I talk to digital artists, particularly photographers, and they tell me about their beautiful images, I often ask them if I can touch them. They tell me that they can print one. Well, they can't print one. The printer prints it for them. From one machine to another. An image that was never created, touched by the human hand. Not one of them gets what I'm trying to say.

Rod Johnson

Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 7:20 p.m.

You think that's true of WSG? I think it's a great group of artists, diverse and yet still a community. This is not a defense of the "art world," which is a mess, primarily since it's so aimed at collectors and investors.


Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 6:13 p.m.

There's photography and then there's photography. Knowing how to use the tools, a camera is one thing, but the real creative process takes place in the darkroom. Today digital art is made at a desk in front a screen. Unlike computer generated stuff, direct to printer, real photography is hands on, knowing some chemistry, developing, how to use an enlarger etc. There is an element of possible failure, of serendipity, of creativity. "Undo" removes much of the creativity that happens during the creative process. Now it's ready made Photoshop filters. I give more creative kudos to the software engineers, the people who write the incredible code that allows digital artists to do what they do. I've never seen an artist give credit to a software engineer in the "manifesto" or description of their work. I give credit to the engineers. I make interactive sculptural art, 3D, a/v, repurposed material, one of a kind, sometimes mobile, often exhibited where you least expect it, to people who are least expecting to see it. My work has been in a couple of gallery shows, and altho my work was well received, it really doesn't belong in one place waiting for people to walk by. I don't wait for people to go somewhere to see my art. I take it to them. It's not easy and much of the joy I get isn't from the art, it's from interacting with people who show an interest in it. The gallery paradigm is dying, primarily because of the closed and slightly incestuous atmosphere in the art world, where letters after your name mean and who you know means more than the creative process. One academic promotes another academic (often from the same institution) and so it goes down the line. Ann Arbor's art scene is just that. Stale, academic, dominated by institutions, with the "artistic community" telling each other how great they are.

Ron Granger

Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 5:32 p.m.

I agree that a print must be made to create something tangible. A photographic enlarger is also a machine. A print that has been matted and framed has been touched by the human hand. Mattes are typically cut by machines, btw. A letterpress is a machine. Canvas is stretched by a machine. A sculptor who carves with a power tool can still be an artist.

Rod Johnson

Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 5:17 p.m.

I hear you, but Hegyi's stuff is so sensual. Very much touched by the human hand. I don't think it's "computery" at all. She's one of my two favorite local artists (Alvey Jones is the other--I'd love to see him get some attention here).


Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 3:42 p.m.

I think her work is great, but then I know nothing about art.


Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 3:40 p.m.

Look, everyone has an opinion about art. I expressed mine. It made no reference to the artist or her work. I made no personal reference, no inappropriate language or judged the artists work, yet my comment was removed. Art is this town is boring. It's locked up but the almighty UM, academics and the closed gallery scene. In other words, art in A2 is grossly overrated and some folks can't handle criticism event if it isn't critical of the art or artist. Why take things so personally? I still find flatwork boring.

Ron Granger

Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 1:01 p.m.

"I find the computer enables me to experiment and to learn from an infinite number of color, value, line and space permutations" While not a knock on the artist, I must pick an important nit - computer colorspace is very much finite. In fact, it tends to be quite limited when compared to the range of color that the human eye/brain can perceive and which is found in nature. The colorspace is further constrained when it is adapted to the capabilities of the output device, whatever type it may be. That is one of the reasons why oil paitings - even those hundreds of years old - can look so absolutely stunning when compared to a photo of the painting, whether on a computer, TV, or printed, etc. Hoping I can get over to check out the exhibit!

Rod Johnson

Fri, Nov 2, 2012 : 5:13 p.m.

Sort of. The gamut of computer color is certainly smaller than the eye can perceive, but 24-bit color can create many more colors than the eye can distinguish. So it's arguable. But, c'mon, she's obviously speaking figuratively, and "infinite" means "holy cow, look at all the possibilties."