OPENING RECEPTION: 1ST THURSDAY, MAY 1, 2008, FROM 5 - 7:30PM
Realism is the focus of two exhibits at Sullivan Goss: the current West Coast TEN and the upcoming East Coast TEN in September. The first exhibition takes a close look at TEN contemporary realists who make their home on the West Coast. The seeds of today’s realism were planted back in the 1960s with the photorealist work of Robert Bechtle, Paul Wonner, and Ralph Goings. The realist movement today is populated with many of the most important artists working in America.
By dividing painters according to their coastal habitats, Sullivan Goss offers an opportunity to observe the effects of Western light vs. Eastern light, West Coast “real” vs. East Coast “real,” Right Coast sensibility vs. Left Coast reverie. Back East vs. Out West. Are we one continent separated by a common language? Is the vocabulary of Bechtle separate from the elements of a Wyeth? The TEN in this exhibition record people, places, and objects of the West.
Time is a topic for each of the TEN. It is cloaked, it is stretched, it is frozen. Robert Bechtle, the senior member of this cast of TEN, records cars as a still life, then cloaks them, as if to further preserve an already frozen moment. Robert Townsend, one of the younger painters in the exhibit, forges a panoramic still life, Flavors You Can’t Forget, forcing the viewer to retrace the footsteps of time in a sequence of bottle caps. The tipped crystal vase in Eric Wert’s Spider Mum depicts time suspended, frozen - all memory reduced to a simple second.
The TEN also explore a time honored Western theme familiar to all who travel the open land - loneliness, the big scape shrouded in the still of quiet. David Ligare’s monumental Seascape is wide open, a seemingly endless panorama, without ship, without people, lacking even a simple shore bird. John Nava paints a lone woman walking open palmed from the sea, an obvious reference to the classical Venus - alone. As if taking a page from Bechtle’s book, Drew Goings Gulf (Wrapped) portrays a famous Western sign, a Gulf Gas Station sign, abandoned and wrapped – the detritus of the modern West.
These painters often portray the aftermath of action, and in the timeline of art they are the more peaceful aftermath of abstract expressionism that dominated the decade before photorealism. The TEN communicate human life and common objects without the expressionist’s noise of aggressive brush strokes. In the solidarity of fine technique, they gain clarity and an aching simplicity. The TEN do not shirk from a world of sharp, perceptive focus.
- Susan Bush, Director of Contemporary Art