GWALTNEY at Seager Gray Gallery
GWALTNEY, a one person exhibition of paintings by Chris Gwaltney opens at Seager Gray Gallery in Mill Valley on April 1, 2016. There will be a reception for the artist on Saturday, April 2 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm.
A retrospective of Chris Gwaltney’s 30 years of exhibition history would read like an intimate chronology of the artist’s life. Gwaltney’s paintings have always been a reflection of his daily existence and his place in it. His source material has been his family – his children at their various ages, his wife, Jill, his parents and in-laws, who have had a great influence on his life. His representations are not literal, however. For Gwaltney, gestures and their implied emotions are more important than pure representation and finish. The figures come to being in ambiguous abstracted space, often informed by the bright sunlit colors of the Laguna coastline where he has made his home and studio.
For Gwaltney, the figure is expressed as a gesture, a presence simply articulated with line and stroke, often seen as walking alone or in relation to one or more figures. He builds and sketches on the canvas, taking away what is unnecessary, paring down the visual language. In this - and in his interest in color relations, he might be compared to Milton Avery, although he is more likely to site artists like Diebenkorn and Oliveira, particularly in the most recent works.
Gwaltney’s Bay Area roots run deep. The Mill Valley exhibition, simply entitled, GWALTNEY represents the artist’s 20th one person show in the Bay Area in as many years. There is a shift in these works. The figures are often solitary and walking in a landscape that is mysterious and misty. It is a time of solitude and reflection for Gwaltney. If earlier paintings examined the artist in relationship to his family in the external world, these are more about the artist in relationship to himself – a mature artist’s musings on human life.