Transcendent Voices: Shahla Friberg, Mary Anna Pomonis, Aili Schmeltz, and Bettina Weiß

Feb 14 - 25, 2023

As a painter I am interested in the inner geometry of nature, which is reflected in all processes in the micro and macrocosm, processes that represent the entire universe, the abstraction of forces and movements of nature. I paint shapes with vivid surfaces, which allow the painting to vibrate and thus open the pictorial space.


Bettina Weiß

Transcendent Voices featuring new and recent works by Shahla Friberg, Mary Anna Pomonis, Aili Schmeltz, and Bettina Weiß. Straddling painting and sculpture, the group exhibition features the work of four contemporary women artists who share sensibilities and inspirations yet explore distinct approaches to nonobjective abstraction.


Hailing from Germany, Sweden and California, the artists featured in the exhibition have developed independent practices that correlate to an expanding zeitgeist fueled by the reexamination of the work of pioneering painters like Hilma af Klint (1862-1944), the once little-known Swedish painter and modernist pioneer, Agnes Pelton (1881–1961) and others associated with the Transcendental Painting Group. These reinvestigations have captivated popular audiences and further help explode the notion of modernist abstraction as solely a male project. Moreover, responsive to the existential and imminent threats in world of their own respective times, these artists draw from an introspective well of creativity and seek to connect with the spiritual power and transcendence of art. Blending mysticism and meditation; possessing a personal, sacred geometry; a spirituality unmoored from organized religion; and marrying senses to sciences and making, the artist’s featured in Transcendent Voices reflect an syntheses very much on the minds of many artists today.


The gleaming and reflective glass sculptures of Shahla Friberg (b. 1978, Toronto, Canada) engage viewers with surprising vistas and visceral experiences of color and light. Radiating like beacons, Friberg’s sparkling works alter the viewer’s expectations and, by extension, perception itself. Having recently relocated from Los Angeles to a seaside nature reserve in the south of Sweden, a place that has an exceptional relationship with light, Coronal Loop (2021) is a unique hand-built construction made of mirrored glass and metal that projects forward of the wall and encloses a space for the viewer to encounter with multifaceted, reflective surfaces creating an optical experience suggesting vortices of space, time and energy. For Friberg, the urge to encapsulate the phenomenology of light and color in the world, as well as in memories and dreams, pulls her to continuously play with ways to manipulate perception, searching for the best possible formulation of a relatively unknown thing.


The paintings of Mary Anna Pomonis (b. 1973, Urbana, Il) utilize the language of light and color; the architectural forms of the surviving temples of the Eastern Mediterranean; and textile like patterns to create divergent, ambiguous queer pictorial compositions. The artist transforms the subtext of these sacred constructions – recognized as exclusively masculine, both in name and iconography – into paintings that zigzag and move with the motion of the body imbued with a sublime, ecstatic energy. Appropriating the steplike pattens of historical Italian and Greek embroideries called Bargello and Reticella which have inspired many contemporary designers such as Rosita Missoni, Los Angeles based Pomonis creates meditative objects that mimic the skylines of mountains and spires that vibrate with vibrant color, lifeforce and spiritual possibility. Her paintings were recently selected by Michael Duncan into an group exhibition entitled Transcendent at Louis Stern Fine Arts, Los Angeles which ran concurrently with exhibition Beyond Reality: The Transcendental Painting group show at LACMA.


Intuitively drawing in the colors, light, and textures of the landscapes that surround her Los Angeles and Joshua Tree studios; Aili Schmeltz (b. 1975, Davenport, IA) inventively seeks visual expression through parallel practices of painting, drawing and sculpture. The exhibition, Transcendent Voices, features the artist’s newest examples of the large-format ceramic sculptures which the artist calls, Cairns. Turning from the igneous black of the weathered buttes and rock mesas of the region that defined the first leg of the ongoing series; these new totems are made of interlocking stacks of hand-built clay elements and are fired with an unctuous green of verdigris glaze inspired by the Art & Crafts era potters like Grueby. Giving architectonic shape to the spiking plant forms of the landscape around her studio or suggest the flowing conduits of water these forms were first developed while at an Artist in Residence at The Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts during the summer of 2022. Drawn to the stories of historic visionary leaders of Women and environmental movements in the West, ranging from forest activist Julia Butterfly to suffragist and labor activist Maude Younger among others; Schmeltz likens these standing structures as talismans and embodying strength and resiliency.


Following on the gallery’s debut exhibition of paintings by Berlin based Bettina Weiß, Transcendent Voices features a new group of works that are non-representational yet evoke cosmological maps, sacred geometries and radiating waves found in the power of the natural elements. Weiß generates visual possibilities for how abstraction might attempt to grasp the energy and complexity of the natural world – its magnitude and mysteries beyond language, but not recognition – in forms that are fluid, intuitive, or even magical.


Transcendent Voices, follows a series of three solo exhibitions entitled Berliner Fokus. a new element in the Edward Cella Gallery program which introduces notable emerging artists living and working in Berlin, Germany through a collaboration with the Inglewood based Artist in Residency program Himalaya Club. Presented in concurrently with Frieze Los Angeles 2023 and Felix Art Fair the exhibition highlights the work of these four women artists during a dynamic moment in the Los Angeles Art World. The exhibition will be open daily from 11 am to 5 pm Tuesday, February 14 to Saturday, February 18 and again Tuesday, February 21 to Saturday, February 25 and by appointment. The exhibition is installed at the project room of the Edward Cella Art & Architecture gallery located at 1109 N. La Brea Ave., Inglewood, CA 90302 and on street parking is available.


Tuesday, February 14, 2023 | Noon to 5 PM
Join us for Rosé and Chocolates!


Saturday, February 18, 2023 | Noon to 5 PM
Gallery Talk at 3 PM





Installation Views