Solo Exhibition | Jackson, WY
Altamira Fine Art Jackson is pleased to present a solo exhibition for September Vhay, opening February 8, 2021.
Please join us for an Artist Reception Saturday, February 13 from 4:30-7pm.
The red bears and the red horses tie into 2020. The characteristics they symbolize have been what we’ve needed to persevere in the challenges of the past year. In Native American teachings, bears are symbols of strength and wisdom, associated with healing and medicine. Horses are symbols of freedom, strength, mobility and stamina. This exhibition—its coming together and its timing early in the new year—feels serendipitous with our collective experience. Two years since my last red horse and bear show makes the symbolism, in this moment, all the more fortuitous.
Red Bear 34, represents this time in my red animal evolution. To me, this grizzly represents the strength, wisdom, healing and motion inherent in the ongoing red series. The red bears evolved from the red horses; the forms of these species lend themselves to sumi-e brush painting. People often ask me about painting other animals. ‘Could you do elk?’ But there are very few animals with the sense of mass that lends themselves to this type of expression. I love this bear’s curiosity; you can feel him looking for berries, with his front paw poised to step forward. Another nice corollary to 2021—moving into the new year. Red Bear 34 conveys power and grace, a dichotomy that has become part of the magic of these pieces, especially the bears. They are so massive and yet they move gingerly, walking with such grace through the forest, surprising when you consider their mass. The lightness of the medium allows me to capture this dichotomy.
Befitting its subject, Red Bear 34 is massive, 48 by 72 inches. The big canvases are based on small pieces. When large, they come alive. Smaller pieces are charming, and yet, scaling up makes them feel more like actual bears. You can feel the movement more in a bigger form. With Red Bear 34, I recognized that there was enough line work to hold a big canvas. This bear seems complete in the expanse.
Both the bears and the horses harken back to the first equine drawings I did when I was five years old. Then as now, I always start with a circle for the jaw, and then move on to the triangle nose. Once the face takes on enough expression, I keep going. If not, I’ll stop; the head must have a certain amount of personality. For every piece I finish, there are probably another 20 studies. They have to be very precise. I can only do them when I’m in a Zen-type of state—quiet, focused, relaxed. They don’t show up if I’m anxious or rushed, or if my studio is messy. They take a certain mindset to create. Ahead of this show, I consciously cleared my schedule.
The red horses began a decade ago as a form of play in the lead-up to the holidays. For years, I’ve painted holiday cards for Crane Creek Graphics, using red watercolor. Usually, my palette is muted, but for Crane Creek, I work in red, making bows and other fun forms. That winter, I had been studying Deborah Butterfield’s sculptures. As I took a break from cards, I did a little scribble of a tiny red horse, only two by three inches. Friends swooned over them. The red series remains playful for me—freedom from my more detailed paintings. So, in addition to the animals’ symbolic strength and wisdom, these paintings have become personal talismans of play and lightness.
Contact the gallery, (307) 739-4700, email@example.com