Embodiment: The Figure in Art
Seager Gray Gallery, Mill Valley, presents Embodiment, an exhibition of eight figurative artists including Claire Burbridge, Melinda Cootsona, Chris Gwaltney, Dennis Hare, Devorah Jacoby, Gretchen Jane Mentzer, Waldemar Mitrowski and Nancy Nelson. The exhibition runs from August 1 to August 30, 2015. A reception for the artist will take place on Saturday, August 8 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. A full color catalog of the exhibition is available through the gallery.
The human figure in art whether it is a stick figure or a fully articulated portrait evokes in the viewer a more physical relationship to the work simply because we ourselves are figures. If the figure is long and lean like a Giacometti, we feel that stretch in our bodies. If it is dense and heavy like a Botero or a Henry Moore, the weight is as much felt as it is seen. If there is a patch of yellow light on a shoulder or face, as in works by Elmer Bischoff or Diebenkorn, we relate to it not just visually, but in our own experience. When the figure is abstracted or positioned in an undefined space it has the power to touch on more metaphysical concerns – loneliness, entrapment, freedom, solitude, mortality. . . The works in this exhibition engage us in both the rich language of abstraction and in the mysteries of the human condition.
In keeping with the gallery’s tradition of seeking expressions in a variety of media, we brought in the work of Scottish artist Claire Burbridge.
Waldemar Mitrowski came to the US from Poland in the late 80’s and lived for a time in Bolinas. An exhibition in the east bay caught the attention of Charles Campbell and Mitrowski was included in a later exhibition in his North Beach gallery. Classically trained at the Academy of Fine Art in Krakow, Poland, Mitrowski is a virtuoso painter who can move from deeply guttural expressions to the most subtle and delicate renderings. Mitrowski has a European painting sensibility, employing techniques carefully learned and masterfully employed. The paintings are richly layered with surfaces that move from gritty and coarse to whisper smooth and translucent. Living in Poland now, Waldemar returned to the US this past year with the express intention of creating a body of works to leave in the US. Seager Gray took in the entire group and feel that it is among the finest work the artist has ever done. Large in scale, the paintings are powerful and masterfully realized.
Chris Gwaltney has shown in the Bay Area since 1995 and is a favorite among collectors for his exuberant life-affirming canvases. Gwaltney’s figures are tall and his atmospheres tend to suggest the out of doors where no walls or ceilings contain them - so much so that often they extend beyond the boundaries of the canvas. He is a brilliant colorist employing daring and often improbable colors that he resolves within the creative process.
Dennis Hare is no stranger to the Bay Area, having shown at Hackett-Freedman, Elins-Eagles-Smith and many other fine galleries in the area. Hare’s work is meaty, incorporating an uncanny ability to subtly convey gesture and mood while using an amazing amount of materials, merging oil painting with assemblage.
Henry Jackson’s figures are often merely suggestions of the figure, so merged are they with the atmosphere around them. Their atoms and molecules expand like clouds whose forms are always changing. Jackson uses oil, cold wax and dried pigment in a medium perfected over many years, giving his work an unmistakable quality and palette
Melinda Cootsona might be considered the Intimiste of figurative abstraction. Her paintings are reminiscent of Bonnard and Vuillard in their depiction of private intimate moments in a personal life and world. They are abstracted portraits of everyday life. Her colors are soft and creamy with pleasing contrasts. Though her paintings often contain a single figure, the exhibition presents a new large work, Same Coin, with twin figures seated in a garden landscape merging contours of the land with the shapes of a human form.
The gallery is open from 11 to 6, Tuesday through Saturday and 12 to 5 on Sunday.