OPENING RECEPTION: SATURDAY, JUNE 6, 2004, FROM 5 - 7PM
At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshness; / Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is, / But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity, / Where past and future are gathered. –T.S. Eliot, Burnt Norton
Titled after a line from Eliot’s famous poem, Burnt Norton, the group of paintings that make up Still Point, are all a response to our increased awareness of the tenuous nature of life. The paintings reflect Eliot’s meditation on time and progress and locate the possibility of redemption outside of the constant flux of history.
Bartlett’s unique narrative vision is a combination of many sources including his upbringing, his faith, and his family and friends. His work implies a chance for magic and wonder in every day life. A typical Bo Bartlett painting presents an iconic American subject underlined with subtle open-ended questions. The viewer’s appreciation can be as straightforward as the narrative image or as complex as introspective interpretation and response.
The Way, depicts a life-sized young girl and an older woman on a rocky cliff with the sea in the background. The older figure looks out to sea, the young girl’s gaze meets the viewer. Her expression, as she stands firmly on the slippery rocks, seems to indicate a knowledge of the future which permeates this dreamlike scene. Influenced by the American realism of Thomas Eakins, Thomas Hart Benton, and Andrew Wyeth, Bartlett asks us to contemplate human frailty and vulnerability in a startlingly beautiful context.
Treating people, places, and events drawn from his personal life as well as from social and political history and fictional literature, Bartlett captures on canvas larger-than-life moments that are emotionally charged and unquestionably symbolic. Sweet, imagines the world of childhood innocence in the age of experience in the face of a young girl sitting on a beach. The White Bucket, presents the possibilities that life has to offer contained in the confines of circumstance. These rare works typify a phenomenal career and an unusual opportunity to view and acquire new works by a major American painter here in Santa Barbara.
This exhibition is contemporaneous with Bartlett’s mid-career retrospective Heartland: Paintings by Bo Bartlett, 1978-2002 at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art June 5 – August 22, 2004.