Finding meaning in coffee

Finding meaning in coffee
“Hades and Persephone” by Avi Roth, currently on display at Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty in Rancho Santa Fe. Courtesy photo

RANCHO SANTA FE — An innovative collection of artwork is currently on display through Nov. 1 at Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty in Rancho Santa Fe. 

“Coffeegraphs,” a series of anthropomorphic landscape images created by Los Angeles artist Avi Roth, embodies an intriguing artistic concept incorporating nature, the artist’s use of technology and the viewer’s imagination.

Born in Transylvania of Israeli heritage, Roth has loved photography since age 9, when he first created artistic images with the aid of a Kodak Brownie camera.

In 1974 with degrees from Tel Aviv Polytechnic and London Film School, Roth came to Hollywood, Calif. to pursue his photographic career.

After almost four decades as a commercial photographer, he has dedicated himself to a new art form since 2006.

Roth’s innovative Coffeegraph concept evolved out of contemplating an intriguing coffee stain in the bottom of an espresso cup.

Observing the unusual image in which he perceived reflections of the turmoil and destruction then occurring in the Middle East, Roth photographed and digitally enhanced the image. Upon examination, he realized the potential power of this art form, which seemed to reflect a voice greater than his own.

After six years of developing this concept, Roth said that he allows the universe to initiate the process, which he finishes by digital enhancement. Roth asks each newly discovered coffee stain, “Who are you and where did you come from?” He feels his job is to reveal the mysterious images simply by exposing them.

Pondering the “serendipity in a billion,” Roth said, “There are millions of artists who drink coffee every morning,” yet he alone has been empowered with an art form that originates from the simple yet complex remains of coffee cup bottoms.

Not purely a matter of happenstance, Roth described his creation of Coffeegraph images as involving application of coffee grounds and by-products to solid or porous surfaces by way of staining, layering and water burning. The artwork is subsequently converted into digital data, from which limited edition impressions are reproduced by various printing methods.

Roth said of the anthropomorphic landscapes images, “The swirls and patterns of coffee reveal the secrets veiled by time. Discerning their meaning has become my canvas of creative expression.”

He continued, “These messages are in a language of exotic origin that speak mostly in monochromatic shapes and textures, creating tension between hues of joy, delight, inner turmoil and darkly twisted anxiety.”

Roth said, “I have viewed my work hundreds of times. Yet at every new glimpse, like a curious child, I discover a new wonder that places me at the beginning of the journey — as if encountering it for the first time.”

Never knowing what will unfold with each new discovery, Roth says of his Coffeegraphs, “The viewer decides to what degree it speaks to them, with each observer finding a wealth of personal meaning.”

This original collection can be seen at Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty, 16909 Avenida de Acacias, Rancho Santa Fe through Nov. 1, and at


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