The challenge for Stephen Westfall as he arrived at the Aurobora studio was to allow mathematical precision to merge with the unpredictability and inherent experimentation of the monotype process. Initially, draftsman-like patterns were meticulously drawn onto Plexiglas plates. This provided a tracing map for various mylar stencils. Each stencil was intricately cut into a specific shape, inked (or used as a mask to prevent errant ink from trespassing into protected areas of the print) and then set back onto a compositional form first outlined on the plate. This process was repeated before each monotype was printed and is illustrative of the fact that the beauty of Westfall’s work rests between the tyranny of geometry and the artist’s patient hand.
Westfall’s imagery is anchored in repetition and color rotations. The optical pop between positive and negative space forces the eye to attention and then the overall composition lures the viewer into making associations that eventually mirage away into the calibrated format of the artist’s abstractions. For instance, in the suite Waltz, nine rectangles are spaced evenly apart from each other and each one is scored window-pane like with jagged intersections of a complimentary color. In another suite titled Landmark, Westfall stacks irregularly outlined color bands one on top of the other, off-kilter and low-centered, until the final color band bleeds off the lower paper edge. And in the suite Miracle Mile, the negative white space of the paper and the color-saturated triangles dangling from a grey piping jog the memory towards flags fluttering on the perimeter of used car lots.
Stephen Westfall’s works on paper succeed in creating an intoxicating visual statement— by syncopated pattern movement, by perfect-pitch in color selection, and by a subversive compositional tension.
Albertina Museum, Vienna, Austria; Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD; Bon Marche, Paris, France; Kemper Museum, Kansas City, MO; The Library of Congress, Washington, DC; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek, Denmark; Microsoft, Seattle, WA; Munson Williams Proctor Institute, Utica, NY; Rubin Museum, New York, NY; University Art Museum, University of California at Santa Barbara, CA