Vali Steele - The Critique

Vali Steele’s magnificent creations are not defined by their physical nature, but by their perception of space, time and movement. In the stillness of her works, from beautiful glass and metal sculptures to mixed media creations, ceramics and photography, we perceive the enormity of space, the complexity of the artist’s conception and the ceaseless duration of time. Nevertheless, the dynamism in her distinctive works is linked to a perceptible rhythm that reflects the chaos and unpredictability of life. Her sculptures show an exactitude of form merging with the concept of intangible and everlasting expansion. Thus, the viewer is led to imagine journeying into and around her sculptures, connecting with and experiencing otherworldly presences, emotions and terrains.
 
Steele is recognised for her skilled method of glass blowing -  a hypnotic and extremely innovative artistic practice with astonishing results. Steele’s exhibition, Landscape of Emotions, shows her passion for abstract work, landscapes and organic matter as a tangible placement of distant memories. Her profound artworks allow Steele to transform an obscure place or memory, to a current state of being. Her smooth silhouettes mirror the artistic and architectural philosophy coined by the prominent Russian sculptor Naum Gabo, whose basic geometric forms suggest a supremacy of feeling rather than what one actually sees. Both Gabo and Steele’s abstract compositions contain a mystical spatial presence that explore form without depicting mass, thus giving life to a ‘pure art’, rooted in spiritual experience. 
 
Steele exhibits her magical glass sculptures in a setting that highlights their innate luminosity, reminding us of the abstract works by world-recognised British artist Barbara Hepworth. Both Hepworth and Steele create monumental sculptures - organic, sensual, transcendent and pertinent to nature as Hepworth stated in 1943, ‘All my sculpture comes out of landscape’. Steele’s peculiar sculptures draw the viewer into an immersive experience, their glossy surface and pearlescent reflections dance in unison with that of the visitor, as the artworks and audience become entwined in an unparalleled shared experience, challenging and breaking boundaries of contemporary artistic practice. 
 
The luxurious and sublime quality of these delicate pieces is starkly juxtaposed with the derelict state of their surroundings - a simple room with a clean industrial atmosphere. The lighting is dim but bright enough to make the glass figurines sparkle, glimmer and wink at the viewer who circles and contemplates the works from different angles. Steele explains: ‘With light, I give life. Using reflective, translucent, transparent and opaque lighting throughout the work, I wanted to accomplish individualism in each piece in addition to creating a connection that tied all of the works together as a whole’. 
 
Timothy Warrington
International Confederation of Art Critics