Brushwork is John Whalley's 8th solo exhibition at Greenhut Galleries. This
exhibition of paintings and drawings continues Whalley's exploration of reclaiming discarded tools, seashells, and other objects and giving them new life. His beautifully rendered images seem to instill, or rather uncover, an inner light within his subjects.
John Whalley is a masterfully skilled realist painter with a keen sensitivity to the quiet, sometimes concealed, and often overlooked beauty that emanates from humble, discarded objects, or as he puts it, "the beauty that speaks softly." His work is illuminated not only by a reverence for these well-worn objects themselves, but also by a deep empathy for their prior owners and a curiosity for the shared history of the objects and their owners.
John Whalley's work exemplifies philosopher William Benjamin's mystical linguistic theory and his notion of a "thing-language," that emanates silently from all objects in the physical world, perceptible only to the few who are psychically attuned to it: "it is very conceivable that the language of sculpture or painting is founded on certain kinds of thing-languages, that in them we find a translation of the language of things into an infinitely higher language. . . .We are concerned here with nameless, non-acoustic languages, languages issuing from matter. . the communication of things is certainly communal in a way that grasps the world as such as an undivided whole."
John Whalley is endowed with vision and a tremendous gift for such translation -- an ability not only to perceive the beauty hidden and stories contained in the vast collection of objects that he and his wife have collected over the years (now meticulously organized in his Nobleboro studio), but also to draw out and amplify the messages received. In so doing, the artist allows the viewer to share in the privilege of his vision -- to experience beauty we otherwise would have missed or undervalued. In Whalley's hands, ordinary objects become subjects - not only in the sense of "subject matter," but also in a more philosophical sense, as entities endowed with a point of view, with personal histories and life stories to share. The effect is warm, authentic, and profound.
Though Whalley's previous Greenhut shows have typically been a mix of paintings and graphite drawings, Brushwork will contain only two drawings: "I found myself wanting to explore my subjects in color, with a collection of twenty oil and egg tempera paintings. Hence, the title Brushwork, which also gave a nod to the seven paintings that had as their subject some of the many old, oversized paintbrushes I've collected over the years. Each of these brushes holds a story of their long service that I wanted to pay tribute to."
John Whalley earned his BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1976.
His work is in numerous private, national and international collections including the Georgia Museum of Art, Athens, Georgia; the Otto Naumann Collection, New York City and the Alfred Bader Collection, Milwaukee, Wisconsin to name a few. His publications include John Whalley - American Realist published in 2001 and John Whalley - In New Light, a 30 year retrospective book of drawings and paintings published in 2006. In addition, he was featured on the television show Bill Green's Maine in 2008.