Friday, April 12, 2013

Tobias Keene and the Generations show at The Trout Museum of Art

I just spent the majority of the day on Thursday at The Trout Museum of Art, finishing up the setup of a really wonderful exhibition that opened on a limited basis tonight, and to the public tomorrow.

"You can just be a crazy bugger, it doesn't matter." -- Tobias Keene

We finished setting up this artist's absolutely marvelous show today, and I urge anyone and everyone within getting-here distance to check this show out. It's open to the public April 13-July 21, 2013, $6 admission, and it's actually three generations of Keene painters.

Tobias Keene, whose work is the primary spectacle, lives in LA and is originally from England. His father, Arthur Keene, painted and drew for most of his life, and Tobias's grandfather, English World War II artist Arthur "Van Art" Keene was known for his illustrations, paintings and graphic work. They all have a style that reflects their generation, their subject matter, their aims as artists and painters. It's a really spectacular grouping of work. 

Tobias Keene's architectonic scale paintings, done primarily in oil, are attention-grabbing and edgy. He utilizes thick paint, huge canvases, and bright colors to demonstrate a thoroughly contemporary take on subject matter that often looks back in history, such as Louis XIV or Nike of Samothrace (the Winged Victory). They all contain a certain amount of mystery, with traditional and historical images put into a contemporary context with emphasis on pattern and color, such as The Orange Pope which depicts an image of a seated Pope, certainly an homage to Francis Bacon in a particularly Keene rendering.

My particular favorite is The Girl in the Golden Chair #4, in which Keene has captured the elusive and recognizable expression of a bored/tired/annoyed red-haired, barefoot girl slumped down in a chair, whose direct gaze draws the viewer not only into the composition, but into the imagined psyche of the subject. What is the girl doing there? Is she waiting for someone? Could she be hungry? How long has she been there? Is she waiting to go somewhere, and where might she be headed? Or, conversely, what are you looking at?

It's a must-see show, a first of its kind for Appleton. 

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