Ivanilde Brunow reveals the abstract beauty of nature

Detailed, high-quality artwork filled the walls of the Whipple Gallery Oct. 24 through Nov. 18 as part of Brazilian artist Ivanilde Brunow’s “Icons of Nature” exhibit. The 13 paintings on display use elements of expression, color and movement to create an abstract rendering of the environment.

Brunow says the paintings were created especially for the Whipple Gallery show.

“As a painter, I’ve always had a strong connection with nature, and it is from there that my inspirations are born,” Brunow said.

Works in the exhibit depict intricate scenes influenced by the sea, forests and urban landscapes. They also focus on the way lighting interacts with the environment. This is evident in “Cloud Harvest,” in which a cloud of light slowly emerges against a progressively darker backdrop. Blue, gold and black layers swirl together and play off each other to create a unique scene.

Brunow says she works in her Weston, Conn. studio every day, which is surrounded by woods and natural light. The light that filters through the lines of the trees during the four seasons, which are converted into abstract forms, serve as inspiration.

“I became acutely aware of the rich environment surrounding my studio,” Brunow said. “It is quiet and my friends are the birds, animals and the flowers. The environmental music I listen to while working gives me inspiration and equilibrium.”

The scenery around her studio certainly inspired “Silent Wood II,” in which blue, pink and brown vertical lines flow together to create tall, abstract trees. The colors chosen reminds one of a dense forest at night, with white moonlight glowing from behind. Much work went into creating each piece for the exhibit.

“My process demands layer upon layers,” Brunow said. “As I achieve the desired moment of shading, color, form and transparency, it creates ‘voltage’ among the elements.”

Brunow said she had been interested in the form and color of nature since she was six or seven years old, especially mountain scenes.

“My aunt was learning to paint in oil on small panels of cardboard,” Brunow said. “The smell of the oil and the bright colors seduced me.”

While in the third grade, a drawing teacher realized her interest in painting, and Brunow was invited to take private lessons. She later studied art for eight years at the University Federal of Minas Gerais, which is where she developed many visual techniques.

“In my twenties, the biggest challenge as an artist was raising three children, working as a language teacher and finding time to research art and paint,” Brunow said.

Brunow has found great success with her work. Her art has won many awards and has been showcased in venues around the world, including the Art Museum of Brasilia, the Coffee Museum of Kobe, Japan, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the United Nations.

Professor of Art Bob Dorlac, who has seen the show multiple times, described the exhibit as a great resource for his class. They discussed Brunow’s muted palette and technique of layering opaque, translucent and transparent colors.

“I took my painting class to see the show for an example of how an abstract approach to a subject can successfully express ideas about the subject that are often very elusive, if not impossible, to capture when working in a more objective style,” Dorlac said.

Brunow plans to return to Brazil to organize a book about her career and work on new exhibitions and commissions.

“I will continue to work every day, traveling, observing and facing new challenges, as in the past 45 years,” Brunow said.