OUTSIDER/INSIDER: Abstract Expressionism at Matthews Gallery

Stanley Boxer and Robert Motherwell at Matthews Gallery Boxer (left) and Motherwell

It was Mark Rothko’s 111th birthday this Friday, and the occasion has us pondering one of the 20th century’s most polarizing art movements: abstract expressionism.

Three artworks by renowned abstract expressionists have recently landed on our walls. The first two are heavily impastoed oil paintings by Stanley Boxer, who resolutely clung to the far fringes of the movement. Determined to defy labels, he was furious when art critic Clement Greenberg called him a color field painter, and yet the arc of his creative explorations closely paralleled that of his abstract expressionist contemporaries:

In the manufacture of my art, I use anything and everything which gets the job done without any sentiment or sanctity as to medium. Then, too, I have deliberately made a practice of being “visionless”… this is, I go where my preceding art takes me, and never try to redirect the future as to what my art should look like. This is a general credo and foundation for everything I have ever done and stands firm in its solidity as this is written.

Boxer, who died in 2000, would have loved Grace Glueck’s New York Times review of a 2004 exhibition of his late works. She notes that he was “never part of a movement or trend,” but rather driven by paint’s “physical possibilities without script or program.”

Abstract Paintings by Stanley Boxer- Matthews Gallery Blog Atriumofashreddednight  (top) and Crisppitchofsigh, Oil on Linen

Glueck ends the piece with a brief analysis of Boxer’s titles, lyrical lists of words that are jammed together in unbroken strings. The works in our collection, for example, have names that read like fragments of beat poems: Atriumofashreddednight and Crisppitchofsigh. Glueck writes, “As Boxer joked in his titles, these canvases, more than most, do not really lend themselves to verbal exposition. They live for the eye, to which they bring deep satisfaction.”

Boxer’s titles provide a link to Robert Motherwell, the other abstract expressionist represented in our collection. Unlike many “abex” artists who labeled their canvases using dates or arbitrary numbers, Boxer and Motherwell were unapologetic in their wordplay.

That’s where the similarity ends. While Boxer considered himself an isolated frontiersman of abstract painting, Motherwell was an eager icon of abstract expressionism. He coined the term ‘New York School’ to describe his revolutionary circle, which included Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning, and acted as a spokesperson for the movement in the world of academia.

If Boxer’s titles were little more than impressionistic quips, Motherwell, who was a scholar before he became a “serious artist” and wrote numerous essays on aesthetics, chose names that have inspired endless analysis. His most famous series of paintings, Elegies to the Spanish Republic, chronicles the Spanish Civil War in bold strokes of black and white and subtle passages of ochre, blue, green and red.

Mainly, I use each color as simply symbolic: ochre for the earth, green for the grass, blue for the sky and sea,” Motherwell wrote. “I guess that black and white, which I use most often, tend to be protagonists.” In varying contexts, each color holds a universe of meanings. To fully understand the use of ochre in Motherwell’s Spanish Elegies, “You would have to know that a Spanish bull ring is made of sand of an ochre color,” the artist wrote.  Other works that feature ochre, like Western Air or Personage, with Yellow Ochre and White, would naturally spark different associations. 

Robert Motherwell- Africa 4- Silkscreen- Matthews Gallery Blog Robert Motherwell, Africa 4, Silkscreen

What to make of our Motherwell silkscreen, titled Africa 4? Motherwell completed the Africa suite in 1970, the same year he created his Basque and London suites. They were his first projects entirely devoted to silkscreens, and a divergence from the heavily layered nuances of his oil paintings. Here his black abstract forms stand crisply against their off-white backgrounds, although on closer inspection, their tumultuous edges still seem to weave in an out of focus.

“All my works [consist] of a dialectic between the conscious (straight lines, designed shapes, weighed color, abstract language) and the unconscious (soft lines, obscured shapes, automatism) resolved into a synthesis,” the artist wrote in 1944.

Motherwell first explored the concepts of automatism and the subconscious with a group of Parisian Surrealists, including Duchamp, Ernst and Masson, who had fled Europe during World War II.  Their ideas would help shape the spiritual side of abstract expressionism, a spontaneous, intuitive element that Motherwell carefully balanced with his more intellectual inclinations.

Motherwell’s connection to the Surrealists lends us a potential clue to the significance of the ‘Africa’ title. In his 1946 essay ‘Beyond the Aesthetics‘, Motherwell discusses the life of French Symbolist poet Arthur Rimbaud, who helped inspire Surrealism. In the final decades of his life Rimbaud quit writing and set off on an African expedition, a leap of faith that Motherwell compares to the Surrealists’ break from Dada and formation of a new movement:

Like Rimbaud before them, the Surrealists abandoned the aesthetic altogether; it takes a certain courage to leave poetry for Africa (as Rimbaud did, fh). They revealed their insight as essentially moral in never forgetting for a moment that most living is a process of conforming to an established order which is inhuman in its drives and consequences. Their hatred sustained them through all the humiliating situations in which the modern artist find himself, and led them to conceptions beyond the reach of more passive souls. For them true ‘poetry’ was freedom from mechanical social responses. No wonder they loved the work of children and the insane – if not the creatures themselves.

Perhaps Motherwell’s Africa suite represents a similar journey, a leap into the unknown that is a clear break from previous adventures. Just as Rimbaud abandoned an intellectual pursuit for one centered on travel and action, and as the Surrealists broke from the societal battles of the Dadaists to explore dreamscapes, so Motherwell’s stark Africa forms landed him in a new realm of image-making. Perhaps he sought to prove that even the most distinctly divided blacks and whites could possess endless shades of grey.

Learn more about Stanley Boxer and Robert Motherwell on our website, and make sure to connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Flickr for more gallery news.

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The Boundless Moment: Words and Images

Eric Thompson- The Photographer- Matthews Gallery blog

 Eric G. Thompson, The Photographer, Oil on Linen

For the past week, excited art pilgrims—determined to visit every gallery on Canyon Road—have marched purposefully into our front room and come to a screeching halt. Our Eric G. Thompson show ‘The Boundless Moment‘ is a little different from most of the exhibitions you’ll see on this famous art route. Accompanying many of Thompson’s serene realist paintings are writings by great American poets, from Elizabeth Bishop to Walt Whitman.

The interplay of words and images has compelled viewers to slow down and look twice, sparking many a fascinating observation. Most notably, journalist Alison Oatman of the Weekly Alibi attended our opening and wrote an elegant, poetry-filled review of the show.

Eric G. Thompson- Coffee Shop Girl- Matthews Gallery blog

Eric G. Thompson, Coffee Shop Girl, Oil on Panel

An excerpt from Oatman’s article:

Robert Lowell’s “Epilogue” [is] paired with the painting “Coffee Shop Girl.” Lowell writes: “I hear the noise of my own voice:/ The painter’s vision is not a lens,/ it trembles to caress the light” [emphasis original]. These lines are reflected in the Coffee Shop Girl’s illuminated face—as pale as rice paper.

Later on, the poem continues: “Pray for the grace of accuracy/ Vermeer gave to the sun’s illumination/ stealing like the tide across a map/ to his girl solid with yearning.” Though large sunglasses hide her face and her meager mouth is expressionless, the Coffee Shop Girl is ravenous. We see her frayed emotional state in the feathery brushstrokes in the background, the squirming reddish-brown tendrils of her ponytail, and the sparkling clusters of dandelion-like fur attached to the hood of her puffy coat.

We spoke with Thompson on the phone today to fill him in on the big response his show has received. The artist was in Santa Fe last week for the opening reception, but now he’s back home in Salt Lake City, Utah. The long drive home gave him time to gather some thoughts on the exhibition. Read our interview below, and make sure to come see ‘The Boundless Moment‘ before it closes on August 28!

Eric G. Thompson- Half Light- Matthews Gallery blogEric G. Thompson, Half Light, Oil on Canvas

Describe your studio. 

My studio is just a few feet away from my house. It has windows with good natural light, so sometimes I can turn off the light and still get what I need. Sometimes I’ll set up my daughter‘s easel next to mine, and we’ll work next to each other. She gets to see what her dad does. Most of the time the kids aren’t allowed in the studio, though. I’ll play underground folk music, and when I’m really inspired it feels like the music is flowing straight through my brush.

You work in oil, egg tempera and watercolor. How do you choose which medium to use for a new painting? 

Between the three of them, if I want to capture something a little more loose and light I go for watercolor. If I want to capture something very solid, heavy and thick I’ll go with oil. If I want to capture something a little more photorealistic, I go with egg tempera. It gives you a lot of freedom to express the story or the emotion that you’re trying to convey with each medium.

It can be refreshing, but it can also be almost maddening. They’re all so different, it’s unbelievable. You have to switch your brain around and remember how to use that medium. It can be completely challenging, which I love. That’s one of the greatest thing about painting, is the challenge. I can always let a painting go as long as I have another challenge.

Eric G. Thompson- Nestled- Matthews Gallery

Eric G. Thompson, Nestled, Oil on Panel

Alison Oatman’s review in The Alibi begins with, “One question contemporary realist painters often get is, ‘Why not simply take a photograph?'” Over the course of the article, she critiques that particular line of thought. What’s your answer to that question? 

To a lot of artists, it’s not a great compliment when a viewer says, “That looks just like a photograph.” Maybe to a photorealist that would be flattering, but I think the greatest artists of all time have that balance of, it looks like a painting but it looks so ‘real.’ I’ve made it come to life.

Why does someone need a painting to look just like a photograph? What’s the power in that? Technically it’s amazing, but where’s the artistic freedom? I need artistic license to change things and blur edges and sharpen edges and change value to make it more ethereal.

I can make a painting look like a photograph but then there’s no energy, there’s no life to it. I think just adding a little more energy with brushstrokes or texture brings it more to life.

One of your influences is the Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi. How would you describe it? 

It’s what an object has been through, who used it, who touched it. It’s the patina objects acquire over time, like the rust on an oil can. It just adds to the whole character of the object—I see them as little characters. A cup on a windowsill, an oil can or even pumpkins can have little lives of their own.

Your works seem still at first glance, but a longer look gives me a sense of ‘unfolding,’ of motion. Is that one of our goals?  

It’s about capturing a moment in time that I’d like to freeze and experience for longer than the experienced moments.

I’ve definitely been experimenting with looser brushstrokes toward the outer edges of the painting to give it some energy. I need to experiment to see if I can get the perfect balance of detail and looseness. It’s a way of pushing myself as an artist, and it’s been one of the hardest things I’ve ever attempted.

Eric G. Thompson- Winter Moon- Matthews Gallery blogEric G. Thompson, Winter Moon, Watercolor

Which paintings in ‘The Boundless Moment’ are closest to your heart? 

A few of the watercolors are very powerful to me in an emotional way. Just reminding me of something in my past, at my Grandma’s house in Idaho. She had a farm with all of these different structures. They just remind me of that time, and different feelings come up from my childhood.

Raven’s Hair is a very powerful piece. It’s capturing this emotion of a woman laying on this bed. Her eyes are closed and she’s having a very pleasant thought. It seems to have some nice emotion to it.”

Morning Cup is a portrait of your wife Hilary, and inspired her to write a poem that we’re featuring in the show. Do you often inspire each other like that? 

 We’ve named my paintings every year for 12 years or more. We try to outdo each other with the most poetic titles. The title can say so much in just a couple words. What’s the best title, or the strongest? Hilary is amazing with words.

To learn more about Thompson’s show, connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

The Boundless Moment: All Together Now

Eric-Thompson-Artist-Family

Eric G. Thompson’s ‘The Boundless Moment
opens Friday, August 15 from 5-7 pm
and closes August 28.

Eric and Hilary Thompson’s daughters dash around Matthews Gallery, exploring their father’s new solo exhibition ‘The Boundless Moment.’ They’ve just finished a long car ride from Salt Lake City but they’re bursting with energy.

Over the past year the children have grown alongside these canvases and panels, watching as thousands of brushstrokes transformed into rolling landscapes and rosy skin. Now these familiar images have magically appeared in our lofty, brightly lit space, sparking the girls’ curiosity. They stop before each work, craning their necks to get a good look.

The girls’ vivacity matches Hilary’s temperament. She keeps an eye on them as she chats and laughs with us. Eric is a quieter presence. He strolls around the gallery, analyzing the arrangement of the work and reading the legendary poems we paired with them. Eric likes to think of his paintings as ‘visual haikus,’ which inspired us to select writings by Frost, Dickinson, Lowell and others to display during the show.

‘The Boundless Moment’ is something of a family act. Hilary was Eric’s model for the painting ‘Morning Cup,’ and wrote an accompanying poem that will debut at the opening reception. ‘The Chiseled Mother’ is a passionate meditation on parenthood and aging. As Eric cradles one of his daughters in his arms, you can tell that he’s just as inspired by the radiant spirit of his children. 

Read Hilary’s poem below, and make sure to attend Eric’s artist reception on Friday, August 15 from 5-7 pm.

Eric G. Thompson- Morning Cup- Matthews Gallery blog Eric G. Thompson, Morning Cup, Oil on Panel

From Hilary Thompson:

The Chiseled Mother

I honor this body
This matryoshka

The delicate lines of my eyes
Like tissue paper
Crinkled from sun beams
Washboards slow the momentum
of tears

These ears, these conches
That entombed the beeping screaming alarms
Echoing endlessly on exhausted drives home
Mercifully quieting with age

Eric G. Thompson- Waiting for a Song- Matthews Gallery blog

 

Eric G. Thompson, Waiting for a Song, Oil on Panel

This mouth
Which broadcasts comforts, screeches, praise
Fractures the tightrope of vexation

These beautiful, perfect arms
That embraced defeat
Carried a child to the surgeon’s knife
Willing arms
That waved, furrowed, aching
Sturdy farewells

This heart that beats out
The anthem of the womb
I Am
I Am
I Am

Eric-Thompson-Art-CoffeeshopGirl

Eric G. Thompson, Coffee Shop Girl, Oil on Panel

A womb
That is the definition of Creation
Bringing forth what does not exist
Into existence
Torn out of me
With upheaval and sanguine waves of nurture

These knees that caught me
When my frame buckled
Unable to support my grief

These marks, stretched
Yawning tiger stripes
Where my body gave room
Shimmer as silver reminders of a past shape

EricGThompson-Art-Evening

Eric G. Thompson, Evening, Oil on Panel

These feet
Planted.  Supporting.
Rooted even in motion, substantial
Pacing halls, hospital rooms
Threshing carpets bare-threaded

I am the red rock slot canyon
Worn smooth, fissured, curved
Sculpted
By this flawed life

This body is a shrine
A Holy place, a pilgrimage
A masterpiece painted stroke by stroke
By the breathtakingly exquisite nourishment
Of not getting what I want.

Breathe that in,
Chiseled edifice of the Mother,
Slather it like salve into your stripes,
You silver tiger.

 Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to learn more about Eric G. Thompson.

Eric G. Thompson: Seeking ‘The Boundless Moment’

Eric G. Thompson- Spring City House- Matthews Gallery blogEric Thompson, Spring City House, Oil on Canvas

“He halted in the wind, and — what was that/ Far in the maples, pale, but not a ghost?”

So begins Robert Frost’s poem A Boundless Moment, the inspiration for the title of Eric G. Thompson’s upcoming solo exhibition. The show will feature the Utah Valley artist’s contemporary realist paintings alongside the writings of Frost, Dickinson and other well-known American poets.

Thompson isn’t necessarily inspired by these figures, but as you’ll see below, there’s a uniquely American sense of solitude and yearning that unites his contemporary images with their legendary words.

Read Frost’s couplet again and savor the mystery of it, which subsequently unravels over three sensuous stanzas. Thompson’s paintings also evoke questions, but his enigmas come in the form of foggy memories. An aching sense of familiarity pervades his work, encouraging us to pause, ponder and lose ourselves for a moment… however long that may be.

Scroll down for a special preview of Thompson’s new artwork, interspersed with lovely poetry selected by Lawrence. Make sure to attend the opening of ‘The Boundless Moment: New Paintings by Eric G. Thompson‘ on Friday, August 15 from 5-7 pm.

Eric G. Thompson- Raven's Hair- Matthews Gallery blog Eric G. Thompson, Raven’s Hair, Oil on Panel

A Boundless Moment
Robert Frost

He halted in the wind, and — what was that
Far in the maples, pale, but not a ghost?
He stood there bringing March against his thought,
And yet too ready to believe the most.

“Oh, that’s the Paradise-in-bloom,” I said;
And truly it was fair enough for flowers
had we but in us to assume in march
Such white luxuriance of May for ours.

We stood a moment so in a strange world,
Myself as one his own pretense deceives;
And then I said the truth (and we moved on).
A young beech clinging to its last year’s leaves.

Eric G. Thompson- Strong Bones- Matthews Gallery blogEric G. Thompson, Strong Bones, Oil on Panel

Eric G. Thompson- Back Door- Matthews Gallery blogEric G. Thompson, Back Door, Oil on Panel

I dwell in Possibility — (466)
Emily Dickinson

I dwell in Possibility —
A fairer House than Prose —
More numerous of Windows —
Superior — for Doors —

Of Chambers as the Cedars —
Impregnable of eye —And for an everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky —

Of Visitors — the fairest —
For Occupation — This —The spreading wide my narrow Hands —
To gather Paradise —

Eric G. Thompson- Winter Blanket- Matthews Gallery blogEric G. Thompson, Winter Blanket, Watercolor

The Old Flame
Robert Lowell

My old flame, my wife!
Remember our lists of birds? One morning last summer, I drove
by our house in Maine. It was still
on top of its hill—

Now a red ear of Indian maize
was splashed on the door.
Old Glory with thirteen stripes
hung on a pole. The clapboard
was old-red schoolhouse red.

Inside, a new landlord,
a new wife, a new broom!
Atlantic seaboard antique shop
pewter and plunder
shone in each room.

A new frontier!
No running next door
now to phone the sheriff
for his taxi to Bath
and the State Liquor Store!

No one saw your ghostly
imaginary lover
stare through the window
and tighten
the scarf at his throat.

Health to the new people,
health to their flag, to their old
restored house on the hill!
Everything had been swept bare,
furnished, garnished and aired.

Everything’s changed for the best—
how quivering and fierce we were,
there snowbound together,
simmering like wasps
in our tent of books!

Poor ghost, old love, speak
with your old voice
of flaming insight
that kept us awake all night.
In one bed and apart,

we heard the plow
groaning up hill—
a red light, then a blue,
as it tossed off the snow
to the side of the road.

Eric G. Thompson- Spring Blossoms- Matthews Gallery blog

Matthews Gallery, Spring Blossoms, Oil on Panel

I Am in Need of Music
Elizabeth Bishop

I am in need of music that would flow
Over my fretful, feeling fingertips,
Over my bitter-tainted, trembling lips,
With melody, deep, clear, and liquid-slow.
Oh, for the healing swaying, old and low,
Of some song sung to rest the tired dead,
A song to fall like water on my head,
And over quivering limbs, dream flushed to glow!

There is a magic made by melody:
A spell of rest, and quiet breath, and cool
Heart, that sinks through fading colors deep
To the subaqueous stillness of the sea,
And floats forever in a moon-green pool
Held in the arms of rhythm and of sleep.

Learn more about Thompson’s show on our exhibition page, and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more gallery news.

SALON 669: A Historical, Hysterical Salon Glossary

Salon de Madame Geoffrin, where all the good parties went down in 18th century France - Matthews Gallery blog

Ever heard of a ruelle, a visit card or les bas-bleus? In preparation for SALON 669, we’ve compiled a glossary of weird and wonderful terms from literary and art gatherings of the past. Don’t worry though, you don’t have to be a noble, a French speaker or dressed in blue stockings to attend our Oct. 18-27 event series. Just bring a healthy helping of the last term on the list…

  • Age of Conversation: Spans the height of the salon’s popularity, from the 16th to 18th centuries in Italy, France and across Europe.  Some scholars say the intellectual meetings helped spark the French Revolution.
  • Enlightenment: A cultural movement that was spurred in part by the salon, which created an even playing field of ideas that elevated the growing bourgeois class to the level of the nobility. Mme Geoffrin was a pretty powerful lady in 18th century France. Find out why on the Matthews Gallery blog.
  • The Great-Woman: The hosts of salons were commonly women of the bourgeois and noble classes, who threw the gatherings to educate themselves and wield social and political power. Historians have called the most influential of these salonnieres “great-women”, using their stories to reframe misogynistic historical narratives.
  • Greek Symposium: The Athenians invited artists and intellectuals to their homes, providing a safe political space for different classes to mingle. The symposium inspired the Roman banquet, which inspired Italian Renaissance gatherings, which inspired the French to coin the term “salon”.
  • Horace: Roman lyric poet who said his craft aimed “either to please or to educate”.  The salons often followed Horace’s motto, aspiring to foster delightful, stimulating conversation.
  •  Je Ne Sais Quoi: French for “I don’t know what”, a popular way to describe the harmonious feeling of the salons in 17th century France.
  •  Lane: Or, in French, ruelle. Describes the space between the bed and the wall in a lady’s chambers, where 17th century French salon goers sat while their hostess lounged. Not all salons were so intimate though. At Louis XIV’s petit lever (literally “a little lift”), no one was allowed to sit down. Madame Recamier was a "literary lion" and political power player. Find out why on the Matthews Gallery blog.
  • Literary Lion: Term for fierce literature enthusiasts who organized salons in the 19th and 20th centuries. Madame Recamier (1777-1849) helmed a powerful literary salon attended by intellectuals who were unpopular at court, snubbed a position as the Empress consort’s lady-in-waiting, and even started a tiff between artists Jacques Louis-David and Francois Gerard over a portrait commission. The hardly humble writer and salon host Gertrude Stein later used the title to describe herself.
  • Les Bas-Bleus: A term that has come to mean “female intellectual”. Madeline de Scudery founded the les bas-bleus (blue-stockings) salon in the 1600s. When salons sprung up across Europe in the 18th century, Elizabeth Montagu founded her own blue-stockings gathering in England. Montagu maintained such a rigid dress code that she once rejected the Duke of Wellington for having the wrong shade of socks.
  • Visit Cards: From the 1800s until the 1930s, visitors to upper class French salons would present a card with their name on it to a servant at the door. If the host didn’t recognize their name, they were booted from the premises.
  • Wit: Throughout the history of salons, cleverness was key. The two most important rules at a salon were that all guests were to be treated equally, and that everyone was expected to make points without provoking confrontation.

Stay tuned for more salon-themed posts, and make sure to attend SALON 669 at the Matthews Gallery from October 18-27.  Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for more news from the Matthews Gallery!

NEW IN THE GALLERY: The evolution of David Grossmann

David Grossmann, Matthews Gallery
“Almost” by David Grossmann

David Grossmann always knew he wanted to be an artist. Even before his first painting lessons with his grandmother at 10 years old, he was an avid sketcher, filling notebooks with intricate drawings of dragons and the floor plans of medieval castles. By 16, David was taking portrait commissions and doing book illustrations for a publishing company. Still, he couldn’t quite discern a path that would turn his passion into something more.

“I didn’t know how to get there as far as making a living as a professional artist,” the 29-year-old says. Finding that bridge would take a while, but it’s safe to say that he’s officially crossed it. We’re proud to be the first gallery to represent David and his work. It’s just the latest high point in an already impressive artistic career.

David was born in the United States and moved to Chile when he was two years old. It’s a place of stunning, harsh natural beauty that would inspire in David a lifelong passion for the outdoors. His grandmother was a landscape painter who lived in El Paso, Texas. When they saw each other, she would teach him oil painting techniques with a brush and palette knife.

When David was 14, the family decided to relocate to Colorado. It was a move that the teenager fiercely resisted.

“When we left, I didn’t say goodbye because I hadn’t accepted that we weren’t going back,” he says. “I’m sure for anyone, being 14 is probably a tough age. On top of that, adjusting to a new culture and new everything was really difficult.”

David Grossmann, Matthews Gallery
“Away” by David Grossmann

The move marked a big shift in David’s art. Not long after he arrived the young artist started receiving requests for commissions, and he enrolled in his first formal drawing classes with artist Valorie Snyder. His grandmother was an art director of a Christian publishing company and gave him a job illustrating Bible study curriculums.

“It became more of an outlet for me than it had been before,” David says. “It was a lot more serious, a lot more figurative works. I also started drawing more landscapes at that point.”

Despite his early success, David still didn’t see art as a viable career. In college he studied business and Spanish, focusing primarily on his studies instead of his artwork. During his last year at university, struck by the fear of being trapped in a cubicle, he finally committed to giving art school a shot.

David Grossmann, Matthews Gallery
“When Leaves are Falling”, David Grossmann

At the Colorado Academy of Art, David learned classical painting techniques and took his first plein air painting class.

“I’ve always loved the outdoors, but until I took that class I felt like I couldn’t contain the landscape. It’s so huge, and I didn’t know how to make it into a composition,” he says. After he learned how to capture the beauty of nature on canvas, he knew that he’d be doing little else in his work. “That combination of being outdoors and painting, which were two of my favorite things, were just perfect for me,” he says.

Three years after David enrolled at the art academy, it abruptly closed. The artist once again found himself full of doubt; he’d learned a lot about painting, but he wasn’t sure how to sell his work. That’s when he started an apprenticeship with artist Jay Moore.

“In art school, my training was very much based on technique but not a lot on the professional side of things,” David says. Being in Moore’s studio gave him a window into the life of a working artist, and showed him that a fine art career was possible. “I didn’t know how long it would take to get there, but I knew that I could get there,” he says. “I remember being so excited. I’d been thinking about and dreaming about this for most of my life.”

David Grossmann, Matthews Gallery
“Over the Aspens”, David Grossmann

Since then, David has developed a unique style that the artist calls “visual poetry”. Using a gentle, glowing palette, he paints abstracted visions of forests that are melodic in their focus on rhythm and symmetry. Sprawling swaths of landscape transform into flat, smooth planes while scattered trees lend a profound sense of depth. These contrasting perspectives set the works slightly off-balance, sending the eye on an endless quest to consolidate them. The compositions may seem serene, but they contain the same mysterious kinetic energy that tugs our eye from one stanza of a poem to the next.

“I think both poetry and paintings can capture an essence of something and stir emotion and imagination at a very deep level,” David says. “In some ways it’s very simplified and thought out, but hopefully it reaches to that level that connects with someone’s heart.”

David has since shown his work in many exhibitions, including national shows sponsored by Oil Painters of America, the American Impressionist Society, and Salon International. Southwest Art Magazine featured him as an “Artist to Watch” and his work has been featured in Plein Air Magazine and American Art Collector Magazine.

The artist is also an avid traveler, and has journeyed with sketchbook in hand through the Western United States, Eastern Europe, Africa and Central America. In 2011, he finally had the chance to return to Chile. He saw old friends and spent 11 days backpacking through Patagonia in Southern Chile. It was the first time he’d brought along a full painting set on a trip.

“It’s very rugged country and I was carrying a backpack that weighed over 60 pounds,” David says. “Having to paint under those circumstances where there’s just forceful gusts of wind nonstop, it really made me appreciate that every painting is a miracle. It brought out a new level of confidence in my work.”

David had come full circle. He left Chile as a child and returned as an artist.

Click here to see more of David Grossmann’s work, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for subsequent updates.