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08 January 2014

‘Kesennuma: Japan’s Altered Landscape’ to be displayed at HACC

Exhibit opens Jan. 15; artist lecture on Feb. 6

HARRISBURG, Pa. – “Kesennuma: Japan’s Altered Landscape," paintings by Amer Kobaslija, will be on display in the Rose Lehrman Art Gallery on the Harrisburg Campus of HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, from Wednesday, Jan. 15, through Friday, Feb. 14, 2014.
A lecture will be given by the artist on Thursday, Feb. 6 at 5:30 p.m. in Whitaker 214. The lecture will be followed by a reception in the gallery at 6:30 p.m.
Kobaslija’s small paintings depict large swaths of the destruction caused by the March 2011 tsunami that ravished Japan. Specifically these energetic paintings, many on copper panels, are of a coastal town, Kesennuma, in the Miyagi prefecture. “In the paintings made in the months following the calamity, I aimed to render the horrific scale of the devastation and to evoke the uniquely visceral energy and bizarre, dreamlike feel of the place,” said Kobaslija.  “These paintings of Kesennuma portray interiors, but these are interiors that are ruptured and spewed-out, ravaged by a sudden cataclysm and covered with all-invasive mud and the remnants of a city. What was once a vibrant, scenic community had become a heart-rending tableau of destruction, punctuated by seemingly unending piles of rubble. Trapped underneath, and awaiting the painstaking process of reclamation and rebuilding, lay remains of everyday life. My paintings depict the devastated homes and everything I observed in their rubbles, including broken furniture, clothing, children's toys and family albums splayed open revealing the last traces of days gone by and of lives now wiped out.”
“In more recent trips,” said the artist, “I have observed a different energy on the ground from what it was in the early days following the tsunami. By now, much of the land has been cleared of debris. A vast grayish sky looms over the flattened land, expanding as far as the gaze goes and beyond. There is a sense of stillness on the ground, and at the same time, everything is in flux.  It is not what it was, and soon it will transform again. The past lingers in spirit and the future is nothing but potential. In my attempt to convey this state of land and mind, I use less color in the new paintings – and there is very little texture in these new works, mostly washes of oil paint, speaking of the world that perished.”
Originally from Banjaluka in Bosnia, at the age of eighteen Kobaslija fled the war-ravaged country and arrived in refugee camps in Nuremberg, Germany. He traveled to Dusseldorf where he attended the Art Academy. In 1997, Kobaslija was offered asylum by the U.S. and immigrated to Fl. Once in Fl., Kobaslija completed his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Printmaking at the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota. In 2003, he went on to pursue a Master of Fine Arts degree in Painting at Montclair State Universityin New Jersey. Currently, Kobaslija is an Assistant Professor of Art at Gettysburg College. He divides his time between New York City and Gettysburg.
Kobaslija has had numerous one-person exhibitions in Paris, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Miami. He is represented by George Adams Gallery in New York City. In 2013, Kobaslija was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship. Kobaslija’s works have been reviewed and printed in publications such as The New York Times, Art in America, ArtNews, Art & Antiques, The Village Voice, New York Time Out, New York Magazine, The New York Sun, The San Francisco Chronicle and The Florida Times Union, among others. 
The Rose Lehrman Art Gallery hours are 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Monday-Friday and 5-7 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, or by appointment.
The Rose Lehrman Art Gallery received state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.
For more information, contact Kim Banister, gallery curator, at 717-780-2435 or

For further information, contact:
            Kim Banister
            Education Specialist and Gallery Curator
            Telephone: 717-780-2435
            Fax: 717-780-3281
            Chelsea Krepps
            Integrated Marketing Communications Coordinator – Harrisburg Campus
            Telephone: 717-780-2632

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