KERRY SIM­MONS

American Art Collector - - Contents - RICHARD ORI­ENT

Wild

Richard Ori­ent be­gan his paint­ing life as an ab­stract painter when he was in school in the ’70s. Ab­strac­tion was de rigueur in art schools at the time, but “I was game,” he says. As he painted more, he found the works be­com­ing more like land­scapes.

His work swings eas­ily from ab­strac­tion to the land­scape and, even­tu­ally, back again.

His lat­est paint­ings are ab­stract land­scapes of the Hud­son River painted with a squeegee. They can be seen at Ge­orge Bil­lis Gallery in New York, De­cem­ber 11 through Jan­uary 12, 2019.

“I’m com­fort­able do­ing land­scapes,” he says, “they’re in­te­gral to my artis­tic ex­pres­sion. If I do a year or two of land­scapes or if they be­gin to get too re­al­is­tic, I say, ‘Let’s do ab­strac­tion.’ I try to erase the im­print of re­al­ism.”

Ori­ent builds and throws ceram­ics in New York City and trav­els by train along the Hud­son River to and from Pough­keep­sie and his home in Dutchess County. The land­scape along the Hud­son is sur­pris­ingly bu­colic and in­spires him on his weekly jour­ney.

The paint­ings in the ex­hi­bi­tion are his im­pres­sions of mov­ing through the land­scape in dif­fer­ent

sea­sons and weather con­di­tions—the col­ors of the coun­try­side change and the re­flec­tions on the river change with the weather. “It’s fas­ci­nat­ing to me,” he ex­plains. “I’m learn­ing the river in a dif­fer­ent way.”

Ap­ply­ing paint with a squeegee could re­sult in flat ab­strac­tions, but he in­cor­po­rates his knowl­edge of cre­at­ing at­mos­phere and depth gained through paint­ing the land­scape re­al­is­ti­cally to bring those qual­i­ties to his Hud­son River paint­ings.

“Paint­ing this way has a real spon­ta­neous feel­ing to it,” he ex­plains. “There’s a sur­prise qual­ity. I can’t pre­dict what the squeegee drag­ging paint across the pa­per is go­ing to do. The paint is vis­cous and goes down dif­fer­ently than with a brush. There’s more tex­ture. I can scrape it some more or leave the first drag of paint. I re­spond to it. I’m work­ing from mem­ory rather than from pho­to­graphs. The smaller scale brings in a cer­tain in­ti­macy.”

2Hud­son River #6, oil on pa­per, 15 x 20"3Hud­son River #5, oil on pa­per, 15 x 20"4Hud­son River #7, oil on pa­per, 15 x 20"

1Hud­son River #2,oil on pa­per, 15 x 20"

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