Untitled, by Lola Montes Schnabel, 2012.

The best art serves to illuminate the human condition, and in the case of Lola Montes Schnabel’s latest show, the works are both literally and figuratively inspired by the concept of light penetrating the darkness. Night Vision is a series of 14 paintings on display at Southampton’s Tripoli Gallery, each one created as the artist stared at a candle burning in a darkened room. “It’s about getting in touch with what’s eternal in all of us,” says Schnabel of the exhibition, which she feels could also be called “Boat of Souls”: “When I look at a flame burning in the dark, it contains the whole universe within it…connecting me to all the other heartbeats that ever looked into a candle with the lights turned off.”

The striking, semiabstract works are displayed in a gallery space with walls painted black, which creates the dreamlike effect of flames suspended within the darkness. “So many people go and sit around with their backs to the wall in a gallery, and that’s not what we think is important,” explains the gallery’s curator, Tripoli Patterson, a Sag Harbor-born surfer and art aficionado, who first met Schnabel 10 years ago through mutual friends. “We want to make sure that people are going to remember this experience.”

Patterson praises Schnabel’s honesty and sincerity as an artist, describing her process as being “almost like a translator” through whom the works flow. There is something meditative and highly personal about the paintings: Just like gazing into a fire, each viewer sees something different. Night Vision runs through September 12 at Tripoli Gallery, 30A Jobs Lane, Southampton, 377-3715

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