Daniel F. Gerhartz
Weather, season, time of day, time of year, air quality, location, altitude…when you start really looking at all the variables that affect light it becomes more and more clear, abundantly so, that every beam of light is one of a kind, never to be repeated or seen again. In
The Pursuit of Light, a new solo show featuring the work of Daniel F. Gerhartz, the Wisconsin painter knows capturing every kind of light would be a futile endeavor, but he certainly gives it a go with more than a dozen new works, each one an exploration in the quality of light, from beach sunsets to farm nocturnes to high-noon landscapes.
“I love just capturing light, especially when I can capture so many different types of light. There’s such a story in just the light itself. It speaks to our souls in a way that no other narrative can,” Gerhartz says from his studio in Kewaskum, Wisconsin. “So if I can be a student of light and capture it as accurately as I can, that will speak volumes to my viewers.”
The painter, who also teaches art, tells his students to always push themselves into different kinds of light, and to explore and have fun. “I tell them not to be formulaic in your color mixing,” he says. “There is so much variety in the types of light we live under. Force yourself to be as honest with yourself as you can and always strive to capture it, to create a harmony in your paint mixture.”
That variety can be seen in his new works, including in Remembrance, a brightly lit afternoon landscape of a cemetery amid a clearing of trees against a small hill, or in A Quiet Winter’s
Night, that uses a different kind of light—sunlight bounced off the surface of the moon—which creates a beautiful, even haunting, nocturne scene on a farm.
In Waiting, Gerhartz turns his attention to his youngest of five children as his 9-year-old daughter sits in a growth of tall grass and wildflowers as a butterfly flutters past. In the piece, the butterfly, which has undergone a great transformation to
become what it is, symbolizes the great change that will come to the girl. “We as humans go through so much change, and I was really thinking about what that looks like for her. As I developed the piece I just kept thinking of what lies ahead of her,” he says, adding that the piece allowed him to show a lot of movement in the grass and flowers, yet also render finer detail in his daughter’s face, hands and dress. “It’s all movement and design. I’m trying to move the eye through the piece. I ask myself where I need more detail and where to let it go or dial it back. For these paintings I love to use the palette knife because there’s an unpredictability to it. It leaves room for things to happen that normally wouldn’t happen with a brush. It’s an almost intuitive feel from that point, pushing and pulling paint, scraping it off and then putting it back on. It has to read as form, and the forms have to recede and move through the painting. It can’t look like paint. It has to work like air and light.”
Savoir faire, oil, 48 x 30”
I Will Love You Forever, oil, 34 x 60”
Waiting, oil, 32 x 32”