Dialogues on Art Inspire Gallery Night & Beyond

The Theatre of War Plays Out In Beautiful Landscapes

Oct. 23, 2012
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Several events Gallery Night & Day weekend inspired interesting dialogues that resonate far beyond the quaterly event. Whether this meant Eric Aho speaking to his paintings of Vermont hayfields, photographer Julia Kozerski’s self portraits and video that discusses body image in contemporary culture at Blutstein Brondino Fine Art, the Arts @ Large exhibition, or the Milwaukee Arts Museum’s two new exhibitions featuring the Treasures of Kenwood House and Grete Marks, the art invites these contemplations through year’s end and all become worth more than a weekend to wonder about, valuable to view a second time and contemplate again.  

Eric Aho exhibits at Tory Folliard Gallery in a compelling abstract exhibition and spent Thursday afternoon answering questions from a small gallery audience. In recent months, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art purchased one of Aho’s monotypes and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston added an Aho painting to their permanent collection. Inspired curiously by Rembrandt, who was on display in the MAM, Goya and Watteau, Aho mentioned Watteau’s lightheartedness matched with Rembrandt’s stark humanity creates the contrast in his paintings, including one titled Deep in Europe. 

That afternoon,  Aho spontaneously discussed the abstract direction his own art had taken in the past 13 years:

“I set out in 1989 to study printmaking and drawing and I was afraid to paint at school. Until I needed to teach painting, and then I started painting. So I tried to go into a place where I at least imagine what I’m seeing…the translation of how to feel the wind or smell the color. I spent five years in the studio facing the blank canvas, [trying to put this on the canvas], the memory of a certain kind of blue near the horizon, when the clouds change the sky. There’s a whole world happening behind those clouds, the sky, and that’s intervening on my [present] canvas.”


Or his spoke on his painting Hayfield, a painting that sold before the busy weekend event:

"That painting speaks to the second mowing of hay, in July, where the yellow is the color of mown and fallen hay in the sunlight. I had come from a hike as a plein air experience, and have then seen something, and to try and use that experience to take to a canvas. And I come out of the dark woods and see this golden hay. And so I begin painting, the rich smell of the hay. The farmers’ had said the hay has never been so rich. And I started in the left corner, in the distance and moved into the foreground. While the left corner took a very short time, the foreground took five days to paint. The structure of this conceptual reference, in an illusion to these things [hay and light]. What does yellow look like from a vague memory of stepping out of the woods, dark woods, and into the light?"


And he was asked about another painting he sold, Deep In Europe: 

"Deep in Europe comes from a poem, a poet’s own circumstances. When I traveled in the world [Finland, Norway, Siberia], I thought going away to these far off places, would make the paintings more important. And now I paint landscapes [of my Vermont home] because I have a family. This painting is a way of transporting, traveling myself to someplace else. There’s a tragic beauty to the painting as well. My father fought in World War II and he said when there was fighting in Paris, the day was spectacular, filled with light and sun. There are conflicts all over the world. The theatre of war is played out in beautiful landscapes, like the beautiful sunny day in Paris where the tragedy still plays on. These conflicts inhabit the painting, what the content is up to and I hope to do more, a series, in the future about these contents. What one sees with the lightheartedness of Watteau that matches the stark humanity of Rembrandt." 

All interesting points to ponder, the most poignant being:  "The theatre of war is played out in beautiful landscapes all over the world. “ 

Conversations and dialogues inspired by the Gallery Night and Day exhibitions continue over the next few weeks on the Art Talk Milwaukee blog. Contribute to the discussion by logging a comment. To view "Eric Aho: New Paintings" visit Tory Folliard Gallery at www.toryfolliard.com or visit Blutstein Brondino Fine Art's to view their exceptional photography 2012 comprised of nine Wisconsin photographers. 









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