Monday, August 23, 2010

Richard Thompson @ WCCA

William Campbell Contemporary Art
Fort Worth, Texas
September 11, 2010 - October 16, 2010
(from WCCA press release)

Horizon - Red Vessel and Pine; Oil on canvas; 47x 54" ; 2010
New Landscapes: Horizons and Prairies, an exhibition of new works by Richard Thompson, will be on display September 11 - October 16 at William Campbell Contemporary Art. An opening reception will be held on Fall Gallery Night, Saturday, September 11, 2:00-9:00 p.m. The show will feature more than a dozen new oil paintings, along with several watercolors, that address the artist's ongoing fascination with the American landscape and what he calls its "still life quality."

This body of work is the result of several cross-country drives Thompson made in 2006, during which time he found new inspiration in the American vernacular: vast tracts of farmland, old wood barns, grain silos, and overall bucolic domesticity. Long recognized for his astounding technique and compelling aesthetic, Thompson presents such traditional themes through the lens of a Modernist. He has reduced objects to their most basic elements (line, color, shape) and has compressed the space, uniting foreground and background to underscore the two-dimensional surface of the canvas. The subsequent images celebrate the building blocks of the paintings as much as their content. "The world enters through my eye, travels back out through my hand, reformed by my brain and informed by my heart." In Horizon - Red Vessel and Pine (above), Thompson visually explores the exterior landscape against an interior still life. Here, he presents the scene with an ambiguous perspective, leaving the viewer to wonder if he/she is gazing out of the car window or the house window-or each in turn. A strong horizon line in the upper quadrant grounds the objects and works in conjunction with the sill-like stripe at the bottom to frame the space, while additional lines throughout the painting compartmentalize each segment of land, acknowledging the canvas's grid. Rotund glass vessels, ripe fruit, and blooming flowers (still life subjects common throughout the canon) have been abstracted but still reference age-old notions of fertility and florescence. This composition sets up a dialogue between the geometric and the organic, the empty and the full, and traditional and Modernist mindsets.
Horizon - Prairie Fields #9 (immediately above) signifies the passing of time, in this instance as the viewer visually moves through the landscape. Heavily flattened and compartmentalized, the scene displays the striking geometry and abstraction of Modernism, but still captures the essence of the traditional Americana that enthralls Thompson. As with all his pieces, human figures are absent. Their presence is referenced, however, in the manicured fields, the man-made structures, and the planes with contrails spanning the sky.
Horizon-House (with Green Door)
Thompson creates a more intimate landscape scene with Horizon-House (with Green Door). Again, there is a tension between full and empty, fertile and decrepit objects. As the tree shapes echo those of the clouds, nature appears to become a singular force, encroaching on the closed-off barn and reclaiming the land.

Richard Thompson's paintings do not simply examine, but relish, the quintessential American Scene. They are at once reminiscence and contemporary visualization of the domestic landscape, gracefully intertwining pictorial brilliance with Modernist ideals.

Widely recognized in Texas, throughout the United States, and internationally, Richard Thompson has worked as a professional artist for more than four decades. His work has appeared in dozens of solo and group exhibitions across the state in large and smaller venues in Fort Worth, Dallas, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio, to name a few. Nationally, he has exhibited in such cities as New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Santa Fe, and Portland (Oregon); internationally, he has shown work in Australia, Singapore, and South Africa, among other countries. Some of his most notable exhibitions include New York's Whitney Museum Biennial in 1975 and 1981 and Contemporary Self-Portraits from the James Goode Collection at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. in 1994.

Thompson boasts an extensive bibliography and has been featured in such notable publications as Art in America, ArtForum, ArtNews, the Paris Review, the Village Voice, Fort Worth's Star-Telegram, and various exhibition catalogues. He has received a number of grants and fellowships throughout his career, among them awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation of the Arts, and the Michigan Council of the Arts. Thompson has been invited by several institutions to be artist-in-residence, and has lectured at universities throughout the United States and abroad, including presentations at College Art Association annual conferences. He is also a founding board member of the Blue Star Contemporary Art Center in San Antonio.

Thompson's work may be found in many private collections and museums, including the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, the San Antonio Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the Albuquerque Museum of Art, and the Orlando Museum of Art. Corporate collections housing his work include Standard Oil Corporation (Chicago), the Sprint Corporation (Kansas City), Apple Computer (Austin), and Fidelity Investments (Fort Worth), among others.

Richard Thompson received his BFA and MA from the University of New Mexico and also studied drawing and printmaking at Oregon State University. He has served as dean and professor of painting at Alfred University in upstate New York, and held a post as professor of art at the University of Texas in Austin. He taught at Houston's Glassell School of Art, the University of New Mexico, and the University of Albuquerque, in addition to holding visiting artist positions at many other universities across the United States. He has been represented by William Campbell Contemporary Art since 1984.
William Campbell Contemporary Art
4935 Byers Avenue
Fort Worth, TX 76107
PHONE: (817) 737-9566

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