May 4, 2018
Opens Friday, May 4 6:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Through June 15
TEW Galleries is pleased to present its first show for Chris Segre-Lewis, a young painter originally from Jamaica who spent his youth in Florida and now lives in Kentucky. While completing his MFA at the University of Kentucky, he discovered the horse country west of the Allegheny Mountains. Learning it had once been the “New Frontier”, this quickly developed into a reverence for the American landscape and a fascination with how artists envisioned it for more than 200 years. It also inspired him to develop his own approach to landscape painting.
Modernity is part of this approach and it is particularly evident in the quasi aerial perspectives which transform crisscrossing rivers and roads into bold, undulating lines and reshape the landscape into geometric shapes and abstract planes. Chris also achieves modernity through color combinations that are a daring and which would have once been considered fraudulent or even brazen. But these paintings also convey the sweep of past events, as if a camera lens had been left open for a long time, leaving us with a hazy sense of history. Curiously, this keeps pace with our short attention spans and actually causes us to slow down and take in these monumental vistas.
There is a final thing that makes these paintings modern and it is related to the Overview Effect, a term coined by American astronaut Frank White to describe the cognitive shift he experienced seeing earth as nothing more than a free-floating ball of vanishing boundaries and celestial wonder. Though Chris’ perspectives are far more familiar to our senses, he too has experienced a cognitive shift and through paintings that express the spiritual appeal of the perceptually overwhelming, he makes it possible for us to experience the earth as celestial as well.
- Timothy Tew
March 8, 2018
Cathy Hegman, an artist who lives on a farm in Mississippi, has established a reputation for creating thought provoking and emotionally evocative paintings inspired by the natural world. Since women, animals and the landscape are her preferred subject matter; her imagery is both familiar and comforting. However, because the women and animals are inwardly rather than outwardly focused and the landscapes are fragmented with very little detail; the paintings take on a mysterious, otherworldly quality. This is enhanced by the use of muted colors, surfaces that are alternately worn down and built up and by shrouding everything in an atmospheric haze, suggesting the passage of time even though we are actually just experiencing a single moment in the story.
One of the most intriguing things about Cathy Hegman’s paintings is how they seem to go in various directions at the same time. On the one hand the figures and animals are intimately connected; on the other they appear almost oblivious to the outer world; then alternately they seem to exude some authority over it. This leaves us wondering what is real and what is imagined, and what is in the past and what is actually supposed to be in the present. Cathy partially explains this when she says that she relives past feelings as she paints and the canvases serve as a mirror for her to see herself. The paintings also serve as mirrors for us to see ourselves and, because we cannot help but respond emotionally, they allow us to interact with situations and experience feelings that might otherwise be too uncomfortable to approach directly.
Looking at these painting we are quickly aware that Cathy has great empathy for people and animals, and that she portrays them as deeply connected and on a shared journey. This has symbolical importance and she says: “My most prevalent and personal symbols are animals and because I feel I have learned so much from them they represent protection, love, companionship, trust, loyalty and serenity.” There are also other symbols in her work, notably the circle which she uses to represent wholeness, perfection, eternity, timelessness, the Self and God and by placing a figure or animal on it, this symbolizes both wholeness and balance.
One of the great things about paint is the way it allows an artist to create layered imagery and atmosphere and to use marks and surface to represent thoughts, feelings, and the passage of time. It is to this end that some of what we see in a Cathy Hegman painting has been actively reworked. In fact she sometimes paints a figure as many as twenty times in order to arrive at a sense of authority. More importantly, this is what gives her art its sincerity.
TEW Galleries has represented Cathy Hegman since 2012 and we are pleased to present her first solo show with us in almost three years.
- Timothy Tew
January 20, 2018
Charles Keiger and I met soon after I discovered his art in an exhibition in Atlanta in 1989. At that time, his paintings were abstract: not much more than slashes of nuanced color and interestingly arranged patterns and shapes. His art has evolved enormously since then, and instead of using sizable brushes to cover large areas, he now paints with very small brushes and spends countless hours creating precisely controlled, immaculate imagery. Another enormous change is his subject matter, which is now highly individual, entertaining and tends to border on the mystical. But a few things have not changed: his love of color, pattern and form, and these underly everything he paints.
After Charles and I started working together, he began using watercolors to paint funny figures in circus-like settings surrounded by lots of negative space. I’m sure this reflected how odd he felt going from non-objective abstraction to representational imagery. Then he changed again and, painting in oils, his figures became more lifelike as his colors became more earthy. The narrative soon turned personal and more sober, and by combining surrealistic elements, for instance a tree growing a face on it, and quirky characters, like a man smoking a corncob pipe in a rural setting, Charles began to comment on his southern roots. More changes followed, many or them indicative of greater command of his craft, but also a far more original vision, and there were lots of entertaining things to look at. This latest body of work marks another shift, and this one is substantial. While the color has become verdant, atmospheric and pleasingly cool; the paintings are sparser. But more importantly, they are more masterful, thus more serious, and without losing their otherworldly quality, they are more real. I think Jules Bekker, our gallery director, describes them best when she says this is Magical Realism.
It takes a long time for one’s work and dedication to coalesce into success. Having watched Charles make the 30 year climb from abstraction to Magical Realism, I know how each step transformed his art. But still, without wands, potions or even a hog wart (though Charles does have a black cat), there has been no amount of magic in getting to this point. But then, what are fortitude, an overarching sense of destiny, belief in one’s vision and the support of a spouse?
When I asked Charles to tell me about this body of work, he replied: “I’ve been thinking a lot about something I read which said that an artist creates in order to expand happiness. I really like that because that’s what I’m trying to do. But I’m not interested in defining what happiness is, only encouraging it in other people.”
Charles Keiger has been represented by TEW Galleries since 1990.
- Timothy Tew
May 29, 2017
December 31, 1969