(HUDSON, N.Y.) – “Abstraction,” featuring new painting, sculpture, and collage by Robert C. Morgan, Jack Walls, Bruce Murphy, Gabriel de la Portilla, and Joe Wheaton, celebrates with an artist’s reception at Carrie Haddad Gallery on Saturday, September 3, from 5 to 7pm and remains on view through October 16. Also on view is “Nude Men,” a group photography exhibit, in the upstairs gallery.
For more than 40 years, painter and renowned art critic, Robert C. Morgan, has worked with ideas from the ancient Chinese philosophy, Tao Te Ching, which teaches the direction of nature as “the way”. The result of this fascination culminates in the recent Lissajous series, a body of paintings highlighting spatial relationships and plays of light through geometrical forms in simplistic juxtapositions. Morgan’s interest is captivated by the paradox between the absorption and reflection of light. Hard-edge circles of bronze and silver are set against seemingly black backgrounds of ultramarine and burn umber, a color combination used by the American painter Ad Reinhardt who also explored traditional Asian ideas. While working with geometrical forms and abrupt transitions of color on a two-dimensional plane, Morgan reduces the scale of his work to impart an intimate and focused viewing experience.
Morgan graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst with a MFA in Sculpture and later received a Ph.D. in contemporary art history from the School of Education at New York University. He currently lives in New York where he lectures at the School of Visual Art and is Adjunct Professor at Pratt University in the graduate fine arts department.
Painter and poet Jack Walls is considered an ‘inside outsider’ when it comes to his own art making. Working across all mediums including drawing, photo collage, poetry and painting, each work is discovered via Walls’ personal patterns and discipline. “HEADS”, a color series of cubist heads inspired by a collection of African carvings debuted at Glenn Horowitz Gallery in New York City in 2015 and later at the Basilica in Hudson, NY. With approximately 75 paintings in the series, Mr. Walls has moved on, but the core theme remains. A new series, “NEGATIVES”, is a reductive revision of these inspired portraits. Surfaces are stitched together from bits and pieces of canvas before gessoed and painted in black and white. The heads themselves have become more abstracted and gestural in nature, retaining primitive characteristics such as crooked lips and off-centered eyes. Across all mediums, successful themes are repeated and refashioned in Walls’ work as he navigates from one series to the next. The overall effect culminates into a narrative that is at once cohesive while punctuating his unique style. The downtown art scene of Manhattan in the 70s and 80s served as an introduction and education in contemporary art for the Chicago born artist. A close relationship with iconic photographer Robert Mapplethorpe further helped to shape his vision and established a mode of operation, one that rejects the antiquated politics of the art world. Mr. Walls currently lives and works in Hudson, NY.
Texas native Bruce Murphy will exhibit a new series of paintings using his preferred materials of enamel paint and various metallic powders. Over the years, we have seen Murphy’s abstract color compositions take on characteristics of landscapes where horizon lines distinctly separate land from sky in minimalist blocks of color. In the new work, Murphy introduces a grid work of straight, measured lines that pierce through the expansive color schemes with the implied specificity of an Agnes Martin. Diaphonous clouds of color are layered within veils of gold and silver metallic powders. A true master of this medium, the artist’s deft application results in a suavely knitted fabric of shimmering light that not only reflects but also emits from, through and behind the nebula of color. Murphy invents a universe on a two dimensional plane where his marks and incisions become points in the cosmos. Bruce Murphy obtained a BFA in painting from the Parson’s School of Design in New York City. After a long career in graphic design, he now lives in Rhinecliff, NY and devotes himself full-time to his art.
Joe Wheaton‘s sculpture explores relationships between symbolic form and robust materials. Teetering ever so delicately between such conflicting descriptions as familiar and strange, beautiful yet menacing, a Wheaton sculpture traverses many contradictions. “As in life, beautiful lines have sharp edges, precarious forms balance with great certainty yet are vulnerable to nature’s menacing ways”. Each work is a static moment in an active performance; subtle configurations of sweeping lines extend from their balancing counterparts, creating dynamic shadows and animated energy on surrounding surfaces. Selections for this exhibit have post-minimalist qualities all demonstrating Wheaton’s expert craftsmanship and graceful designs. Joe pursued his love for pottery studying fine art at Alfred University. Since then, he has explored many artistic genres such as printmaking, photography, video and complex visual projections. He has shown extensively in the northeast near his hometown in Becket, MA, as well as internationally. He has exhibited with Carrie Haddad Gallery for more than fifteen years.
Greatly influenced by literature and music in previous work, mixed media artist, Gabriel de la Portilla, is now reaching into the depths of pure abstraction. Most recently, his work has explored the relationship between stark color, texture and implied depth through a new series of black and white collages of painted and torn pieces of paper that are layered and juxtaposed into abstracts forms. Obscure images begin to appear in the woven bits of paper expressing the artist’s desire to “explore hidden meanings that lie behind what is readily visible, even if it seemingly obfuscates more than clarifies.” Portilla studied studio art at Hunter College CUNY and went on to exhibit largely in the metropolitan area.
Also on view, “Nude Men,” a group photography exhibit in the upstairs gallery, celebrates the male form through the camera lens. The collaborative duo, Kahn & Selesnick, will exhibit three selections from the visual narrative “Dreams of a Drowning World”. An abiding message of this new work speaks to the delicate balance between nature’s luscious beauty and the threat of its loss. Vulnerable and fully exposed, the vertical God-like males portrayed in this exhibit appear peaceful and dreamlike as they float in a motionless marsh of chaos. One male appears upside down, a play on The Hanged Man card that appears in the tarot deck, symbolizing the very human qualities of sacrifice, martyrdom, and putting self interest aside.
Newbold Bohemia’s keeps our gaze to the heavens with a new series titled Icarus & Other Mere Mortals. Bohemia puts a contemporary and dare we say very attractive spin on the well known story in Greek Mythology. Hunky men with tattooed forearms tumble gracefully from the sky looking anything but panicked. Puffy white clouds outline the silhouettes of their slender physiques and muscled shoulders as they hover, arrested in time and space, before plunging to their death. Rather they have the peace with hunky men peacefully floating amongst the clouds like angels without wings.
A master of light, David Halliday produces lush and elegant images that are both classical and modern. Celebrated for his ‘purist’ eye, he poetically captures the nude male body in a selection of sepia-toned prints from 1996. Two favorites fail to reveal the face of the model; the focus remains on the natural drape of limbs, soft folds of flawless skin, and curvature of the spine. Overall, a stunningly intimate portrayal of the male form done with elegance and charm.
Carrie Haddad Gallery is located at 622 Warren Street in Hudson, NY and is open daily from 11-5pm.