Solo Exhibition | Jackson, WY
Altamira Fine Art Jackson is pleased to present a new exhibition for Utah artist Douglas Fryer.
Please join us for an Artist Reception Thursday, August 5 from 5:30-7:30pm and meet the artist.
The Farthest Pasture
“The aim of art is to prepare a person for death, to plough and harrow his soul, rendering it capable of turning to good.” - Andrei Tarkovsky
In his latest group of paintings, Douglas Fryer creates allegorical spaces of rest for his lost loved ones, realms at once defined by death but transcending darkness, reflective of the artist’s own experience of pain and mourning in the last year. A winter spent dealing with serious health issues instilled an awareness of life’s fragility and death’s close proximity. “There were times during my illness when I felt so weak and so much pain that my mind contemplated again and again the vulnerability of life and what will come after.”
While recovering, his horse, Sonny, fell ill. Having held him at birth, Fryer cradled his head as death approached, holding his gaze as he took one final inhale. In the cold of a January night, illuminated by the beams of a pickup truck, he watched as Sonny’s exhale lingered in the air even after his eyes went lifeless. Fryer and the stoic vet shed tears during a discussion of death and its attendant emotions that stretched, despite the frigid night, long after Sonny’s last breath.
Fryer’s personal faith imagines an afterlife where spirits live on unembodied, where they reunite with those who have passed before—a place of peace and rest. Some describe this as heaven, paradise, the spirit world. Fryer describes it in paint—scenes perfected and idealized yet veiled by a physical and psychological distance even the artist cannot bridge. His canvases thus become evocative points of crossing. He frequently uses animals in his work as substitutes for people; in this series, inspired by his loss of Sonny, he envisioned the horses representing remembered relatives and friends. Despite being cast in considerations of death, these new paintings defy dread and fear; instead, they deepen explorations of mystery, quests for resolution.
Even though Fryer harbors a clear connection to each piece, he hopes the reception of his work has the impression of being less didactic, more felt; that his psychic investment in each painting translates into an emotional connection with the viewer. “I prefer to let the paintings be read and enjoyed on their own merits, without direct reference to the story or feelings that generated them,” he writes. “In this way the content of the work is communicated to the heart rather than to the intellect, as all art should be.”
Modeling this embodied emotional experience, this new series sprung from a subtly different starting point in his studio. Instead of sketching contours of line, he began by layering abstract passages of color and marks—warm over cool, cool over warm, dark over light. Working quickly with a vibrant palette of acrylic paints, he worked from above, lying each panel flat on a table rather than vertical on an easel. Large painting knives aided in the bold process. As soon as he found resolution amid the abstraction, he turned to oils for their fluid softness and accumulative texture, refining the atmospheric qualities and detailing the subject matter. Bridging these two phases of his process—the gestural, abstract start and the close refinement of subject as finish—made the making of this series continually challenging.
Now as ever, every mark and passage made by the artist aims to reveal the emotion and hidden poetry underpinning each composition. “My intention is to heighten the content of the subject, not necessarily the shell of its forms, and transcend its ordinary characteristics by enveloping the elements with poetic atmosphere,” he writes. “In this way, the subject becomes more real in a different way, and more relevant.”
Pre-sales available. For more details contact (307) 739-4700, email@example.com