NATURE and culture meet on Trine Bumiller's canvases. Abstract geo-metric shapes host organic forms that twist in elegant disarray: the tamed and the untamed in formal debate.
There is something breathtakingly simple and refined about these images - like details from a robe on a figure in a Raphael painting enlarged for study.
Raphael is the right painter to mention, for although Ms. Bumiller works in emphatically contemporary terms, there is something in the layers of glaze, the 50 layers of paint on each canvas, and the classical technique she employs in applying them that recalls Renaissance style and perfection. Surfaces like glass, smooth and serene, seem to emanate light.
The geometric forms upon which the organic forms dangle are more reminiscent of the striped Romanesque columns of ancient Italian cathedrals than they are of even the hard-edge geometry of city block layouts. But both are present by design.
The titles of Bumiller's paintings also hearken back to another era: "St. Barbara," "Annunciation," "Promise," "Citadel," "Coat of Arms," and "Fortress." And indeed, the artist says that the chief influences on her painting come as much from the Renaissance as they do from the 20th century.
"Titles tell you something about the painting," she says. "Although they are abstract, I like to refer back to what inspired the piece. I want to give some kind of clue as to what might have been part of the origin of the images."
Bumiller came from an artistically inclined family. Her father made travel films, so she traveled a great deal as a child. She took naturally to science while young and then abruptly decided to study art in college - a choice her parents encouraged with the advice, "Do what you really enjoy doing." And what she really enjoyed doing was drawing. For a year after college she lived in Italy, producing prolifically and happily -- working harder than ever before. At the same time, she was absorbing the treasures and techniques of the Italian Renaissance in all their splendor.
Running through all her work is the theme of the highly cultured in juxtaposition to the natural.
IN a new series of paintings called "The Garden," Bumiller takes on 12 wood panels. Each has a striped ground, upon which a wide variety of organic shapes from snails to nasturtiums swims freely. She starts with a very realistic drawing of the shape - a snail, a flower - and then figures out what it is that intrigues her about the form.
"[The images] are all based on natural forms, but shaped in the way a human would shape a garden - cultivated and formed to human desire," Bumiller says. "That contrast goes through my work. Opposing forces: order and disorder, nature and culture."
She is influenced by the things around her. Her inspiration may come from a branch or a bunch of twigs, but she is trying to make the images speak a universal language - to make them resonate with the viewer's own memories and emotional experiences.
Bumiller makes them abstract so that they may be left open to interpretation. She wants to reach something deeper in the viewer than can be reached by the intellect alone.