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6/4/2012 9:01:00 AM
Painter of soul & spirit: Barbara Ragalyi
Barbara Ragalyi
Barbara Ragalyi

By Louise MacDonald
Sedona Art

Are we floating under the sea? Are we soaring into space toward uncharted realms? Abstract art doesn't tell you its secrets. You need to let your imagination play with hints and possibilities.

Barbara Ragalyi's acrylic paintings (on view at the Amara Resort) don't tell you their message at first glance. Her limpid blues and greens, yellows and oranges are transparent and radiant in one painting, opaque in another. A luminous sea-water blue, undulating like waves, dominates the foreground of her compelling work, "Unfolding Universe." The sphere at its center represents our world as a spiritual cosmos.

Ragalyi frequently uses a full circle as a central element luring the senses with its endless dimension. The perfectly rounded line attracts and focuses our gaze, bringing the satisfaction of fulfillment in the completeness of the circle.

In another work, golden overtones of orange and yellow encircle two figures, possibly oriental, who contemplate the vastness of all creation as they huddle together. All is surrounded by unknown space, a concept that forms the essence of Ragalyi's art and reflects the wide range of her inquiring mind.

In abstract art, real objects are interpreted by shapes, lines and colors; in abstract expressionism, like Barbara Ragalyi's work, the artist's personal emotion affects those elements, as in the art of Jackson Pollock, Wilhelm de Kooning and Robert Motherwell.

Life energy flows through Ragalyi's creations, often in lines radiating from or zigzagging through the center. Human figures and oddly shaped stones arise among lines and shapes. A depiction of an earth-like sphere is severed by undulating lines. All of her paintings display the delicate balance of large and small elements though positioning, as well as size and shape.

The artist states that she begins many paintings with no idea or theme in mind. As shapes emerge, the idea jells, enabling the viewer to comprehend it as the painter does. I like to contemplate one of Ragalyi's paintings, then wait for its mood to catch me and pull me along.

Her work is spiritual, yet expressed with simplicity of line and color. It embodies the underlying energy of our world, creating a peaceful space wherein one experiences silence, still-point and oneness with all, she says. "As soon as paint is applied, the process tells me what to do next. At some point I become aware of a deeper meaning and I keep this in mind as I continue. Whether my painting is figurative or abstract, color and design are most important to me."

She continues, "As a teenager I worked in oils but switched to acrylics as they dry much faster. I love trying new media; so I also work with watercolors, inks and oil pastels. A colleague says of Barbara Ragalyi's art, "It touches on the powerful, universal energy that connects man to spirit."

Today her work relates to spacial flight, nuclear power and New Age philosophy.

Barbara Ragalyi is a slender, smartly dressed woman with a ready smile. She was born and lived most of her life in Michigan, but for many years knew that her heart resided in Arizona. She moved to Sedona with her husband in 2000.

Louise MacDonald is a free-lance writer living in Sedona, AZ. She has been an art reviewer in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, MD. She is a member of the Northern Arizona Watercolor Society, and a volunteer at the Sedona Arts Center and the Sedona Area Guild of Artists.

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