News & Events
Peter Brooke: Sanctuary
April 26 - May 25, 2013 at Gallery NAGA
Peter Brooke returns to Gallery NAGA with a new body of work, Sanctuary, which showcases an imaginatively reconstructed travelogue of the artist’s past two years.
Brooke’s adventures served as a muse for his further exploration of atmospheric skyscapes and dark woodscapes hinted at in his last show- a shift in direction from his usual deep and panoramic seascapes. Peter Brooke’s inspiration can in part be credited to his month long residency in Northeast Harbor, Maine, funded by Richard Estes’ Acadia Foundation.
Despite this fresh source of inspiration, Brooke, as always, manages to draw viewers into a world of imaginary scenery capturing not only the physical beauty inspired by places such as Acadia National Park in Maine and the Teton Mountains, but the evanescence of each momentary feeling. The absence of any figures or human life allows viewers to become solitary characters in each new environment, allowing them to mediate on the tension between nature and the intangible emotion of impermanence it inspires. In paintings like Tandem and Teewinot, the layering and removal of oil paint evokes an ethereal essence through peaking mountaintops emerging from a hazy fog; Mortise and Leviathan, conversely, draw upon the use of filtered light and a restricted palette to enhance the dark woodscapes.
Peter Brooke plays with the juxtaposition of sharp, hard edges and misty atmospheres in order to invent positive and negative space in each piece. Dimension is further generated through the absence of light, shadows, darkness, and singular strong beams of direct and reflected sunlight shining through otherwise delicate lighting. The masses of rocks and mountains are rendered not by their physical shapes, but by the shadows and highlights that define and surround them, while ghostly trees appear in the foregrounds and backgrounds adding to the sense of aloneness. This distinction between solid mass and passing light is left unclear, adding to the ever-present question of permanence.
These paintings continue the idea of identification with the natural world, representing the fully formed maturation of Brooke’s initial reactions to the landscape captured on paper. Brooke describes his style as “pure, memory-based,” creating work from the images that resonate personally. In his scenes from the Teton Mountains, Brooke recalls being particularly struck by the sight of the mountains during wildfires and the way in which these massive three-dimensional forms veiled in smoke appeared to be reduced onto a single plane. Brooke translated this memory, creating paintings of the mountains in which the smoke “reduces the solidity of the solid object.”
Peter Brooke not only depicts these scenic imaginations on wood panel, but on paper as well. These renditions, available for viewing in the back room of Gallery NAGA, reflect Brooke’s immediate reactions to the landscape and formed the basis for his larger works on panel.
Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Look at Art Again
March 29 - April 20 at Gallery NAGA
April begins with new paintings by Todd McKie, whose pared down figures presented in entertaining situations, are actually quite complicated. These highly developed plots, brimming with McKie's dry wit, are set against flat, colorful backgrounds.
Todd McKie: Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Look at Art Again runs from March 29 through April 20. A reception for the artist and the public will be held at the gallery on Friday, March 29 from 6 to 8 pm. Images of the works in the show can be seen at gallerynaga.com.
Todd McKie's new paintings vibrate with color and vivacity. The figures and objects, though painted in a flat style, explode off the wall. "I've been enjoying purple and acid green lately," McKie remarks. The painting titled "And the Winner Is . . . " depicts a blue figure with green shoes, and one finished arm. The other arm points to a colored glass object teetering on a pillow, which rests on a table. The character looks at the viewer, offering up this beautiful object.
The color relationships are complex and seemingly irrational, but they are successful. There is a juxtaposition of sharp, distinct figures and symbols against cloudy, abstracted backgrounds. His medium of choice is flashe, a French matte acrylic paint. The result of this medium creates the look of rubbed or erased surface textures in the background, which alludes to the idea of confusion and disarray. In pieces like "A Summer Evening" and "Sweet Dream" the atmosphere has a quiet steadiness, with only subtle fluctuations that catch the eye. "Human Nature" and "What Could Possibly Go Wrong?" host more exuberant and lively scenes that are more common of McKie's work.
There's a mellowness, or quietness, about the new work that wasn't present in the past. The situations are less frantic and chaotic and there exists an inner stillness to the figures. Even when there's a lot going on around the protagonists, they seem less threatened and more accepting of the strange situations they find themselves in.
The Boston Globe
Theater & Art
Plotting painterly fiction
By Cate McQuaid | GLOBE CORRESPONDENT March 13, 2013
Boston painter Gerry Bergstein has returned to the sheer goopiness of paint after a diversion, in his last show, to more digital work. For his new exhibit, “Theory and Practice,” at Gallery NAGA, digital prints are but one of the items in his toolkit, which includes trompe l’oeil, dried paint excavated from the gurney he uses as a palette, and figurines from model train dioramas.
As ever, Bergstein is trying to figure out the universe, and it’s a massive, spinning, tricky place. He invokes great thinkers who have tackled life, the universe, art, and society, and suggests that nobody has quite put it all together yet.
In “Black Hole” he stacks Einstein, Freud, Steven Hawking, and more, each standing or seated atop the next like so many cheerleaders. At the pinnacle, Marx clings to a burgeoning bouquet of images from art history, popular culture, and the garden. The whole thing appears to be on paper taped to a blackboard, but that’s paint, not tape — Bergstein uses trompe l’oeil to drive home the point that nothing is what it seems, that even the most comprehensive theories are merely phantasms.
In “Oversized Load, for Richard Serra,” he turns what looks like a section of Serra’s famously controversial “Tilted Arc” sculpture into a rusty toboggan on the back of a flatbed. Various art-historical nudes ride upon it, including Jacques-Louis David’s portrayal of the murdered French revolutionary Jean-Paul Marat, lolling out of his tub.
The truck careens through space that is half cosmic, half chalk marks on black paper, which appears to tear away to reveal a star-spattered blue sky beneath. Again, it’s all tatty creation, somebody’s ideas (or the culture’s, or maybe it’s just Bergstein’s fever dream) scratched on black paper, here push-pinned to a more enormous and incomprehensible truth behind it. But, what do you know, that’s just painterly fiction, too.
“Theory and Practice” utilizes old, peeled-off paint from his palette. It’s more sculpture than painting. Layers of old paint project from the bottom of the piece like a colorful trash heap. An old paint tube sticks out of it. Two small men work to shovel it up, as behind them unfolds a picture of a boy with his back to us, regarding blossoms as big as he is. Maybe this is a self-portrait: Bergstein is both the boy, awed by the world’s beauty, and the workmen, shoveling through the pretty, messy muck.
Gerry Bergstein 2013 Edited by Ivette Salom
Theory and Practice
March 1 – 23 at Gallery NAGA
Gerry Bergstein has long been recognized as one of the most influential painters in this region. Now, after a year-long sabbatical from teaching, his work has reached new heights.
Gerry Bergstein: Theory and Practice runs from March 1 through 23. A reception for the artist and the public will be held at the gallery on Friday, March 1 from 6 to 8 pm.
Bergstein’s work has often been characterized by manic activity--a profusion of images, sometimes autobiographical; narrative incidents involving cultural icons from Freud to Mr. Rogers; agitated paint handling. In the past, his work has teetered between this activity and a tranquility beneath the surface. In the new work, this energy is on full display.
We recently asked Gerry a few questions about this body of work.
Q: Your last show was made up of photo collage, but your new work is primarily paint on canvas. Why?
A: I missed it. The truth is, I think I’m pretty good at it. I missed the surfaces and the touch. A painted image against a photo image confuses the space, which is what I like. Paint has been around for so long and has so adroitly depicted the human condition. Paint must be part of my content.
Q: We notice that many of the paintings are in a scroll-like format. Where does this come from?
A: The scroll images probably come from looking at the anatomical chart in my studio. Remember when I used to do the blackboards in my paintings? I guess I’ve replaced those with scrolls. Scrolls are used as a mechanism of pedagogy, of teaching, of demonstrating the undemonstratable.
Q: You used to be pictured in most of your paintings. You have disappeared in this new work. Where are you?
A: For a long time I was presenting myself in a relationship with others. As a kid, I idolized Einstein. I still do. I love the idea of relating one’s perceptions to what’s happening around them, of space and time. That device has been explored. I thought, what would happen if I disappeared?
Q: The title of this show is Theory and Practice. Can you tell us why you called it this?
A: You probably noticed that many of the depicted characters in this body of work are men: Einstein, Marx, Freud, Stephen Hawking, Clement Greenberg. These men developed totalistic ideologies, which proved to be valiant efforts, but ultimately, failed. Men have absolute theories that we have war over. Something always goes wrong. Look at me. In my studio, paintings fall off the wall. Art is a good way of testing human nature. We explore without anyone getting hurt.
Complete images of the works to be exhibited will be available by January 4 at gallerynaga.com.