new paintings by Michael Rich

Sep 21 - Nov 4 2012

Opening Reception for the Artist Saturday, Sep 22, 5 - 7 p.m.


A tourist buys a round trip ticket but a traveler is one who sets out on a journey not knowing where they will end up or when they may return.  In a way, painting is this kind of travel.  Sometimes, it is a return visit to places once explored on land then reexamined in the spaces of light and color.  Other times I set out to new territories, seen only in the glimpses of imagination.

Painting is an imperative act.  A contemporary force with the weight of historical precedent behind it, painting has offered me a language of authentic authorship.  Issues of representation and abstraction, form or formlessness concern me less than experiences that derive from a sustained investigation.  In the studio, my inner dialogue guides an exploration of the forms of persistent memory and the depths of space.  My paintings and drawings of the past decade have examined through a language of abstraction the notion of place.  Places once visited, invented or discovered, vaguely take shape in the colors of space and light.   Readings from Bachelard’s seminal, Poetics of Space, have influenced what has become a decades-long search for expansiveness in the painted form.  The poetry of Neruda, Rilke and others inspires a use of the forms of landscape for the settings of experiences of intimacy.

The gray skies of New England, the expanse of the sea, the warm light of Autumn all are subjects mined in my work, not in outward depiction but rather through internalized experience.  In an effort to understand my own place among these fleeting images, I seek a language that draws on personal history as well as the history of painting while forging new path between abstraction and the realization of the image of place.

A recent sabbatical from teaching allowed me a return to Italy where early experiences in landscape painting had help to shape the direction of my work today.  Spending time in the coastal landscape of the Maremma among the ruins of the Etruscans brought new images and forms to the work. The serene beauty and silent witness found in the pastoral tomb sites of Tarquinia or Ceveteri allowed an awareness of the past to seep into the present experience.

While light, weather and atmosphere act as the impetus in my work, it is my aim to probe the depths of an inner space through meditations in light and color.  I am searching through the language of contemporary abstraction, a deeper connection, an understanding of place and consciousness of the present moment.  The paintings themselves lie in the places between memory and new moments of discovery.  While bearing some outward resemblance to the late generation Abstract Expressionists, my work may be a continuation of many of those Modernist ideas, though it is my aim to find new ways forward through an inclusiveness of personal forms.

-- Michael Rich

Selected images from the exhibition:

All works are in oil and wax on canvas.

Lotus I Lotus I, 22" x 26"

The Wind on the Island The Wind on the Island, 34" x 38"

First Signs of Spring The First Signs of Spring, 40" x 36"

Where We Live Where We Live, 40" x 44"


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