Exhibit of paintings and drawings: “Rhythms of Grace”
James Van Fossan
December 2, 2011 – January 2, 2012
Opening Reception – First Friday, December 2, 2011
6:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Collector’s Reception – Third Friday, December 16, 2011
6:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Olney Gallery at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral
100 W. Roosevelt St. Phoenix, AZ 85003
The gallery and receptions are free and open to the public
Light rail: Roosevelt/Central
Olney Gallery is open during regular business hours:
Olney Gallery Director
As a painter of people, James Van Fossan buttresses himself against the insuperable task of creating an illusion of likeness with the entelechy of his talent.
He gently documents the inconsistency of a human figure by suspending it in an expanded moment, while stretching himself towards the very inception of his model's personal journeys, failures, and triumphs. He often uses color, light and texture to describe people in a virtuous, tender sentimentality, expressed in realistic renditions of their form.
At first glance, Van Fossan's portraits seem to be constructed in silent, if not allegorical fulfillment, or a state of inner transformation. In meticulously arranged compositions, color travels in slow, fluid currents, carefully transporting the soft light in the folds of autumn yellows, midwinter blues and grays. Upon closer examination, it becomes evident that the deliberate absence of perspective recession and the often moodily textured background is an invitation to visit the epithet of human condition described in the model's form.
With an intimate gesture, Van Fossan pulls back the privacy curtain and allows one to intrude on a single moment of tender relaxation, personal expression or a translucent day dream. His subjects are unaware of being watched, scrutinized and observed. Instead, some are depicted in an instant of personal exchange with the artist and in a vulnerable state of self reflection, which Mr. Van Fossan captures in the curve of a lip, the moisture of a gaze or the weight of an arm.
In subject matter, Mr. Van Fossan sometimes leans on Neoclassical symbolism and histrionics reminiscent of Romanticism. Here, the artist arranges his figures on a narrow stage, as a frieze across the pictoral plane, while documenting an idealized encounter between himself and his subjects.
Interestingly, even though Van Fossan is capable of documenting the physical shortcomings of his models, he does not allow himself the dark pleasure of sliding into the macabre of human inadequacies, which seem to captivate and enthrall the contemporary art scene from time to time. Instead of dwelling on imperfections, Van Fossan bathes them in a halo of forgiving light and benevolence. This in turn allows the viewer to enjoy the rich crevices of his model's fabric, notice the slip of a shadow in between fingers, and examine the sometimes immense glance of his subject's eyes.
It is said that an artist paints what he sees. If that is true, then the world that James Van Fossan sees is void of nefarious, quotidian vices and instead is brimming with beauty, kindness, and personal resolve.
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