George Dombek’s large-scale watercolors show a deep preoccupation with time. His agricultural portraits depict the tools that helped create America’s genuine greatness, and his barns hold such detail that even in close encounters they are often mistaken to be photographs.
“It’s truly astonishing that Dombek’s barns are large-scale watercolor paintings–it is extremely rare to see a watercolor in these proportions,” Gallery Owner Andria Friesen said. “The artist is able to achieve unusual depth and detail, making his paintings appear to be photographs. Living in Idaho, I see such a parallel between our landscape and the barns that Dombek invents from memory.”
Dombek became fascinated with barns in the 1970s, and it was this decade also that was his first visit to Idaho. For his most recent series, Dombek spent nearly three years traveling in search of barns. As remarkable a figure as it sounds, Dombek has documented that his exploration covered a span of 50,000 square miles. Although the barns, tools, implements, pails and various other rural objects he found were perhaps unremarkable themselves, Dombek’s interpretations reveal a detail of character close to human portraiture.
“Juxtaposed to the barns, this exhibition is brilliantly balanced with Dombek’s agricultural portraits,” Friesen said. “There is an endearing quality in how you find yourself looking at these tin cans, and in a quick moment, realize you’re looking at them as a traditional portrait because they are imbued with such character. Some of the titles are quite amusing, making this exceptionally unique portraiture all the more compelling.”
Although Dombek describes himself as a painter, he also studied architecture; this body of knowledge shines through in his unmatched watercolor technique. If one constructed a building from the information in his paintings, it would be structurally sound. George Dombek’s “constructed realism” explores a variety of subjects in a way that seems to bridge the distinctions between real and abstract.
“My work attempts to elevate the common and formalize nostalgia to make images relevant for today,” Dombek said. “Through critical development and medium mastery my process allows me to create a structed end-product while the actual application of paint is very spontaneous and reactive. Composition and color are at the essence of my images. While the realness draws one in to observe the detail. The color filling the recognizable subjects holds the viewer in a moment of a new-found beauty.”
The artist’s impressive body of work has been exhibited in numerous private, institutional and museum collections and major exhibitions including Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Carnegie Museum of Art, Arkansas Arts Center, Scottsdale Center for the Arts, Birmingham Museum of Art, Butler Institute of American Art, and San Francisco Museum of Art. Among Dombek’s more than 80 awards are recognition from the National Endowment for the Arts Regional Visual Arts Fellowship and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation.
“On behalf of the entire Gallery, we are delighted to now represent this career and showcase this remarkable body of work,” Friesen said. “The honor is all the more so, because Dombek sought out Friesen Gallery. We look forward to sharing Dombek’s watercolors with our community and its many visitors.