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Ronnie Landfield: Beyond Color Field    Jul 29 - Sep 11, 2011

Into the Light
Ronnie Landfield
Into the Light, 2010
 
When We Were Young Again
Ronnie Landfield
When We Were Young Again, 1997
 
 
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Artist Reception: Friday, July 29, 5:30 – 7:30 pm

Santa Fe, NM—LewAllen Galleries is pleased to announce its upcoming exhibition, Ronnie Landfield: Beyond Color Field, on view at our Railyard Arts District venue from July 29 – September 11, 2011. In voluptuous stains of color, understated washes, and perimeters of assertive banding, the art of Ronnie Landfield exemplifies and expands the visual language of lyrical abstraction. Invested with a historical significance that complements their lavish surfaces, his paintings manifest both specific semantic values and infinite optical trajectories. Responding in equal measure to the increasing stylization of Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism’s subsequent reactionism, Landfield paved the way for a new breed of painting that demonstrates a productive return to subjectivity after an era that privileged fashion and facture. Although taking a forceful stance and a progressive position in reviving the possibilities of painting at a decisive cultural moment, his art never succumbs to the heavy-handed; instead, it is softened by its embrace of intuitive architectures of picture-making that contrast readily with Pop and Minimalism’s jettisoning of gesture.

Beyond Color Field bears witness to the continuing evolution of Landfield’s celebrated artistic practice. Acutely sensitized to the means by which minute shifts in opacity, color values, and shifts in hue modulate a painting’s unique emotional resonance, his works posit a merger of painterly instinct and reason, the organic and geometric, the chance-inflected mechanics of pigment poured onto canvas and the rigor of experienced compositional definition. The results verge on the transcendent: radiant fields of color appear to drift from their material substrates, and the parameters of the daily world seem to unravel into limitless expanses of vaporous atmosphere. Nonetheless, and although a salient figure in the development of these compositional strategies, Landfield’s most recent works witness a resolute redefinition of the traditional parameters of color field painting. Here, monochromatic hard-edge bands appear often at the edge of his canvases—balancing and bracketing their centers’s seeming ethereality and grounding the experience of his work in physical space. As such, his paintings acknowledge that they are objects in a world of viewers, each collaborating to expand the infinitely broad experiential possibilities of visual art.

Born in 1947 in Bronx, New York, Ronnie Landfield established himself as a prominent artist by the age of eighteen. His astounding first major group of paintings delighted critics with fifteen 9-foot by 6-foot hard-edge border canvases meant to be viewed in sequence. He was invited to participate in his first exhibition at the Whitney in 1967, at age twenty, and was included again in the Whitney annuals of 1969 and 1973. He presented his first solo show in 1969 at the David Whitney Gallery in New York. Notably, Landfield’s painting Diamond Lake was purchased by famed architect Philip Johnson and entered the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art as a gift from the architect several years later. Also in that year, Landfield was awarded the William and Noma Copley (Cassandra) Foundation Grant in painting. By the age of twenty-two, Landfield’s place in art history was already secured.

The lyrical canvases of Landfield’s oeuvre now stand as exemplars of American abstract painting. His innovative combinations of stained organic forms and rectilinear bands speak to both a Post-Painterly technique and a minimalist-inflected aesthetic, allowing Landfield to shrewdly bridge several post-modern genres. Furthermore, the blossoming forms so characteristic of Landfield’s painting work in tandem with the dynamic juxtapositions of hue to lend his pieces a quiet mysticism – Landfield writes, “If my paintings seem to be optimistic and spiritual and to express the inner core of the human soul it is to that intention that they are meant. I would become unnecessary as an artist if I ever forgot the power and the fragility and the beauty of the human spirit.”

Landfield is in the fifth decade of his extraordinary career, and continues to stand at the forefront of contemporary art. The esteemed director of The Butler Institute of American Art, Dr. Louis A. Zona, has deemed Landfield to be “pure and simple, one of the best painters in America.” Celebrated throughout his career, Landfield was awarded the Pollock/Krasner Foundation Grant for Painting twice – once in 1995 and again in 2001. Landfield’s paintings can be found in such important collections as the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C.; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City; the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis; the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, among numerous others.

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