There and Then: Paintings, 2002-2012
March 1 – April 3, 2019
In 2002 Jon Imber was awarded a fellowship by the Ballinglen Arts Foundation to spend time painting in Ballycastle, County Mayo, Ireland. In this rural setting he was confronted with sweeping green vistas, big skies, and a desire to push his approach to landscape painting in a new direction. He was also confronted with a cold and high fever upon arrival. Whether the fever was any influence, the landscapes he executed in Ireland were bold, abstract and gestural. There was a seeming quickness to them, and in retrospect they can be considered as precursors to future paintings.
Upon his return that summer he relocated to Maine where he and his widow, Jill Hoy, kept a second home. Back in familiar territory Imber directed his efforts to painting some of his favored places along the coast. With the Ireland paintings fresh in his mind, Imber began to introduce what Hoy refers to as an “opening up” - a loosening of brushwork and a more expansive sense of space. In works such as Two Pines, Dow Ledges (2002) he deploys rhythmic, gestural applications of paint to describe rocks, grass, water and trees. Ten years later, Grog Island (2012) shows Imber’s push toward abstraction in full bloom. It is just as much about the painted surface as it is about the portrayal of a place - abstract meat on the observational bone.
2012 was also the year that Imber was diagnosed with ALS (he died in 2014 at the age of 63). While he continued to paint even as the disease diminished his physical abilities, we can only imagine where this exploration would have taken him otherwise. What we do have are these testaments to an artist’s love of place and the possibilities of paint.
Jon Imber received his BFA from Cornell University and his MFA from Boston University. His work is represented in numerous collections including the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University; the Houston Museum of Fine Arts; and the Harvard Art Museums.