View from artist’s studio, Barges, Tugs and Tankers No. 21, work-in-progress
Vigil, Ellen Kozak’s first solo painting exhibition with David Richard Gallery, featured two fully realized series of abstract oil paintings on panel. The painter, with studios in New York City and beside the Hudson River in Greene County, explores the relationship between the fluidity of paint and river surfaces affected by the intersection of natural and manmade phenomena. Altogether the paintings activated the gallery space into a cohesive site-responsive installation.
Tell me about the body of work in this exhibition.
Two closely related bodies of work are presented in my solo show at the David Richard Gallery. The near-square paintings from 2017 to 2020 precede the Covid-19 pandemic. The paintings in my Barge, Tug and Tanker series began in April 2020. The large gallery, with 1,500 square feet of space and 20-foot ceilings, has provided a wonderful opportunity to unite both bodies of work. The show’s title refers to the inherent watchful nature of my decades-long artistic practice and my service with the environmental organization Riverkeeper, Inc. Gallery Director David Eichholtz designed the installation in a way that brings the site and sight—of the Hudson River from my studio —into the gallery, while simultaneously accentuating the rhythms and movement within each painting.
Eight near-square paintings share a height/width ratio of 7/8. I began each painting on a field-easel on mornings beside the Hudson where I paint at several sites along the shoreline. Each painting is a record, a kind of chronicle, of a direct empirical encounter with subtle color shifts, transitory illumination, and patterns in continuous motion on the water’s surface. These paintings are reductive and more abstract than earlier bodies of work. My perceptual field is closer to the shoreline and without horizon, the behavior of paint is closer to the subject it depicts. Painting alla prima involves an aspect of performance. Oil paint and water share properties of viscosity, I explore paint as a mimetic medium—it has an honest relationship with my subject.
Gallery View. Photo courtesy of David Richard Gallery
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