Colin Keane’s thoughts on Reclining Nude (Thin Adeline)

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The Sankofa Review asked its newest editor, Colin Keane, to give his immediate thoughts on Reclining Nude (Thin Adeline), a 1906 work by English painter Walter Richard Sickert.

Pure nonchalance.  As an onlooker, I’m standing in a forbidden room, invisible.  Four color schemes converge from every corner of the painting; at its center, a woman is imbued with gravitational force.  If I could meet the artist, I would ask him, “Is she based on someone real or imaginary?”

There’s an antithesis to the gravity.  The white bedspread stands out in a room flooded with color and exposes the figure of the woman, giving her an ethereal quality—her energy is careless and light; she might be draped upon a cloud.

I would call this painting, “Busy Afternoon”.  As a writer, I look at this painting and immediately begin to imagine the woman’s story.  Narratives form.  Who is this woman?  What time of day is it?  I get lost in thinking about the world implied by the painting rather than the colors on the canvas.

A nude

A nude by Walter Sickert

For instance, what if the woman is in a locked room within a house bustling with activity, a party, or afternoon tea?  I’ve imagined that she is indeed, and that everyone in the house is wondering where she could possibly be!  The woman’s solitude is slightly nuanced: multitudes of people are nearby, making her nonchalance all the more dramatic.

For me, great art inspires and unleashes the imagination.  As I wonder what led to this woman’s afternoon, I admire her casual defiance, but also Sickert’s ability to capture it.  Ironically, the world beyond the woman’s room—and thus the woman’s world beyond Sickert’s frame—is what I’m imagining, and it’s also the last thing on the woman’s mind.

Walter Richard Sickert (1860-1942) lived and worked primarily in London, with recurring stints in France and Italy.  Born in Munich, Sickert moved with his family to England in 1868 and obtained British nationality.  After working briefly as an actor, he enrolled in London’s Slade School of Fine Art in 1881 but abandoned The Slade within a year to study under American artist James Abbot McNeill Whistler.  Whistler, along with Edgar Degas, became Sickert’s greatest influences.

Stay tuned for Colin Keane’s upcoming piece for TSR, “Brahmin Rock Star: Kurt Cobain, monk in disguise”

 

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Art Mecca

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Screen Shot 2017-06-04 at 6.58.41 PMScreen Shot 2017-06-04 at 6.59.13 PMJust as you’d find in many towns and cities across America, there’s a picturesque, tree-lined street in Santa Fe that was once a rural, residential avenue but that has evolved to become a commercial district full of restaurants, boutiques, and other appealing shops. But this street in Santa Fe is like no other. This street is the world-famous Canyon Road, known for the approximately 100 art galleries and artists’ studios all clustered together in a single mile-long stretch. This mecca for art aficionados is the home of Ventana Fine Art.

Ventana 2012

Ventana

Connie Axton, the gallery’s owner, opened the gallery in downtown Santa Fe in 1983, but she jumped at the chance to move Ventana Fine Art to Canyon Road when the 1906 brick schoolhouse became available in the mid 90s. “It needed a lot of renovation when we moved in, but we love it here,” notes Axton. She’s since added a beautiful sculpture garden around the structure, and inside the gallery, the smaller-sized rooms feel intimate and inviting. “You get to see and appreciate the art the way you would see it in your own home,” adds Wolfgang Mabry, Ventana’s Sales Director.

Paul-Henri Bourguignon Girl with a Secret gouache 8.25 x 10

Paul-Henri Bourguignon Girl with a Secret

Ventana represents about 30 different artists, and the gallery prides itself on the fact that no two artists are alike, allowing collectors to discover new styles and to create unusual pairings and groupings of art. “Our mission is to show all different kinds of art,” says Axton, “as long as it’s the highest quality.” Here, collectors will find everything from nonrepresentational works by Martha Braun and Jennifer Davenport to figurative bronzes by Mark Yale Harris, Rebecca Tobey, and Michael Masse to classic landscapes by Doug Dawson and Rod Hubble. And, of course, the cornerstone of the gallery has always been John Nieto, who is one of the first living American artists to bring dramatic fauvist color with a contemporary edge to traditional Native imagery. His fresh spin on tradition parallels the transformation of the Santa Fe art scene itself, which has evolved over the last 30 to 40 years from a regional center for time-honored Southwestern art to an international hub featuring the full spectrum of contemporary art.

En El Bosque 16 x 20 mixed media pastel Albert Handell

Albert Handell, En El Bosque mixed media pastel

One of Ventana’s gallery artists who defies simple categorization would have to be nationally known painter Albert Handell, whose landscapes are a fascinating blend of traditional and modern. He paints the quintessential scenes of New Mexico, often including those architectural landmark adobe houses known throughout the region. Yet his approach to color, composition, and textured application of the pastel medium are thoroughly contemporary and exciting.

Santa Fe Gold pastel 16 x 20 Albert Handell-1

Santa Fe Gold pastel 16 x 20 Albert Handell

Axton and Mabry note that they’re also thrilled to represent the estate of Paul-Henri Bourguignon (1906-1988), and in fact, they’re about to host their fourth exhibition of works by this 20th-century Modernist master. “He’s a pretty fascinating fellow,” says Mabry. “He was born in Belgium, and he was an artist, writer, poet, and novelist. He traveled all over the world until he fell in love with and married an American woman, an anthropologist who taught at The Ohio State University. He then moved to Columbus and continued painting there for the rest of his life.” Selected by Bourguignon’s estate manager, Jane Hoffelt, to represent the artist’s estate after his death, Ventana Fine Art has held four annual exhibitions but this is the first retrospective. “It’s exciting because you can see a progression in degrees of abstraction in his works,” adds Mabry.

Paul-Henri Bourguignon Scaldis (Antwerp) acrylic 18 x 24

Paul-Henri Bourguignon Scaldis (Antwerp)

Listening to Axton and Mabry talk, it becomes clear that these gallerists have an abiding passion for the art within their gallery. “No one can predict which works of art will appreciate in value,” Mabry points out, “which is why we encourage people to purchase art purely for the aesthetic and emotional satisfaction they derive from it.” To learn more about Ventana Fine Art, and for details on the Bourguignon exhibition opening June 2 with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. and continuing through June 21, visit www.ventanafineart.com.

Jennifer King is a marketer, artist, writer, and entrepreneur. She currently provides art marketing services and coaching to visual artists through her company, Connect Artist Marketing. Learn more at www.connectartistmarketing.com.

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From Spain

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“ A painter!.. Nothing other than a painter!.. I have never wanted to be, do not want to be and will never be anything other than a painter.” Joaquin Sorolla Bastida.

After the Bath (Collection of Hispanic Society of America)

After the Bath (Collection of Hispanic Society of America)

Of course he became much more than a creative and masterful painter. His paintings and humanity left a legacy inspiring future generations of painters. His art was steeped with compassion and empathy for the less fortunate in society, in so doing, changed the way later artists approached the spirit of their work. One can feel the warmth and kindness emanating from the canvas, his narratives, portraits and landscapes electrically filled with emotion.

Preparing raisins

Preparing raisins

I discovered art late in life, standing in the doorway of my wife’s beginning painting class. Peering in, watching a frenzy of brushwork and color, from that moment I knew I wanted to learn to paint. I familiarized myself with the art world and its more modern trends after visiting galleries and museums. I started learning about contemporary art. Installation, found object, performance, conceptual, environmental the list goes on, as there are no limits to the way artists can express their ideas. Still I fell more in love with oil paint, seduced by its beauty and sincerity. One strives to paint, at least at first, like painters you admire and whose work you enjoy. For me it was the great masters of the early 20th century. Sargent, Sorolla, Whistler, Zorn, Henri (and the ashcan school).

Courtesy of Nao Motomatsu_12

Entrance to Museo Sorolla (Courtesy of Nao Motomatsu)

It was no surprise that on a trip to Madrid The Museo Sorolla was high on my list of places to see. So after checking into our hotel off the Gran Via, my wife, my daughter and I trekked off to find the Museo Sorolla. The Museum is preserved intact, as it was during Sorolla’s time. It was his home and studio and by all accounts he was actively involved in its design and construction.  It is on an unassuming street in a residential neighborhood and only after asking several people where it was (finally a kind women googled it on a mobile phone), did we discover we were standing almost right in front of it.

Walking into the museum you pass through beautiful gardens with Moorish elements. Sorolla created these gardens with their mosaics, fountains, pools and sculptures copying these details from paintings and drawing during trips to Seville and Granada.

Museo Sorolla (Courtesy of Nao Motomatsu)

Museo Sorolla (Courtesy of Nao Motomatsu)

The museum’s collection consists of paintings the artist kept in his possession his entire life, clearly having special meaning to him and his family. I had seen many of his paintings in shows in and around New York (the Hispanic Society, The Metropolitan Museum, the Guggenheim had a turn of the century show which had one of his paintings prominently displayed). Walking into the home, seeing the majestic loving portraits of Clotilde his wife, the touching social realism paintings and dramatic landscapes of Museo Sorolla, were all inspiring. Then I walked into his studio.

Peppers, 1903 (Collection of Hispanic Society of America)

Peppers, 1903 (Collection of Hispanic Society of America)

Preserved as it was over 100 years ago, his brushes in a Talavera ceramic, his palette and easel resting in the corner. One can imagine Sorolla standing at his easel thoughtfully mixing paint on his palette. You feel the overwhelming presence of genius.

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Andalusia: Vision of Spain 1911-1919 (Collection of Hispanic Society of America)

Bathing

Bathing

Those of us who have found joy in the art and craft of placing pigments on a surface are fortunate to be part of a community dating back to the dawn of mankind (there are rock paintings in Africa that date back 80,000 years). It matters not if you are professional or student, master or in the process of becoming one. It is membership in a very special club. A circle sharing that humble dream Joaquin Sorolla spoke of, so honestly, one hundred years ago.

ARTICLE BY BRUCE PALY

 

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