Monet’s garden at Giverny, replete with tranquil, waterlily-bedecked lakes and an ivy-wrapped chateau, has inspired generations of artists through residencies in the bucolic French town. Monet may be the best known artist of the green-fingered variety, but he’s in good company. Ian Hamilton Finlay, the Scottish concrete poet, sculptor, and landscape artist, revived the concept of the poet’s garden with his Little Sparta, built in the 1960s, with arrangements of natural, sculptural, and poetic elements, including ponds, temples, inscriptions, and sundials. Less elaborate but no less loved, Spanish artist Esteban Vicente’s own cultivated green space at his Long Island home played the muse for his luminous, abstract “Garden Paintings.”
An exhibition of these works by Vicente, alongside the voluminous sculptures of Paul Bloch, currently on view at Heather Gaudio Fine Art, reveals the artist’s radiant fields of interlocking colors anew. A palette of grass greens, deep-sky blues, and fiery yellows and oranges pervades his compositions, whose soft edges may recall Mark Rothko’s velvety color transitions. A leading Abstract Expressionist in his time, Vicente once shared a studio with Willem de Kooning and associated with Elaine de Kooning, as well as other greats of the genre: Pollock, Rothko, Kline, Newman, and Reinhardt. Summing up the New York School’s abstract project in one fell swoop, Vicente once described his paintings as “interior landscapes, in a sense an inner accumulation of my visual experiences, something that comes from inside of me but is related to the outside.” Emanating a warm glow of color and light, these paintings transmit an experience of the natural world that is both deeply personal and expansively universal.