Zehring's Universal Language of Forms

"Circling the Light"

rectangular window within, through which we see yet another circle, partially obscured by horizontal stripes. Interestingly, although the square shape, as noted earlier, historically symbolizes the male principle, the opening in this slightly askew rectangle, with its labial folds along the edges, could suggest a womb.
In other paintings as well, Peggy Zehring employs variations on these same simple shapes, variously combined and layered, to
create a host of visually stunning and thought provoking compositions with the power and presence of unique contemporary mandalas.

-Peter Wiley

Peggy Zehring, who exhibited recently at Montserrat Gallery, 584 Broadway, has traveled the world in search of what she calls "universal, visual Truths from which to form a global unity of forms and symbols."
Recently, Zehring began a study of Sacred Geometry, utilizing the ratios of irrational numbers, of which The Golden Mean is perhaps the best known example. In her new body of work she uses The Golden Mean as an underlying architecture, combining the square (which historically symbolizes the masculine) and the circle (which symbolizes the feminine) to create compositions with symbolic content equal to their visual presence. The formal relationships that Zehring sets into motion by combining these two archetypal shapes are invested
with a variety of readily accessible meanings proving that art is indeed a universal language.
Tactile surfaces also play an important role in Zehring's paintings. She employs sand, ash, marble dust, chalk dust, spackle, and found objects with acrylic mediums as a binder to create a rugged textural terrain that adds considerably to the presence of her
pieces. The relief-like quality of Zehring's paintings calls to mind the contemporary Spanish master of "Art Informel," Antoni Tapies. Like Tapies himself, Zehring reportedly

has an interest in Zen Buddhism, and her paintings certainly do convey a pervading sense of spirituality. Zehring, however, appears to proceed in a more premeditated way than Tapies, judging from the strong formal organization of her compositions.
Also, while Zchring's surfaces are similarly tactile to those of Tapies, her textures are more regular, applied in a manner more precisely calculated in its density and sculptural effect.
In addition, Zehring's colors have a burnished beauty, perhaps enhanced by the addition of metallic elements, that lends her paintings a unique glowing quality. This further enhances the spirituality that her work conveys, suggesting golden or silvery auras that for all the physicality of her forms imbues them with a sense of the ethereal. In his writings, Kant spoke of the "noumenon" --the innate spirit of materials themselves, their autonomous sense-content; yet Zehring imbues materials with a paradoxical sense of something transcendent as well.
These qualities come across powerfully in Zehring's composition "Circling the Light." Within a large circle, a smaller circle is centered with a square shape superimposed upon it. This rectangle has ragged edges, built up in relief, as though some outer surface has been torn away, creating a slanted

Nov - Dec 2003/Jan2004  

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