A new exhibition of paintings by critically acclaimed Fort Worth artist James Blake will be on display February 16-March 16, at William Campbell Contemporary Art. An opening reception will be held on Saturday, February 16, 6:00-8:00 p.m. The show will include both new and existing works set in Texas, California, and across Europe.
Blake paints outdoor scenes-rural and urban-that are simultaneously picturesque and modern. The carefully arranged compositions engage the viewer immediately, often from the foreground. Differential focus, unwavering perspective, and line interplay all serve to galvanize the space, while vivid color and light emphasize the inherent beauty of the subject matter.
The statuesque character at the forefront of Mossy Tree on the Path to Kendal Castle proudly boasts crags, wrinkles, and depressions among its variable layers of bark and moss. These signs of age do not make the tree look withered; rather, they convey strength and endurance over time. Distended fingerlike roots reach outward, affixing both the tree and the viewer's eye in the landscape, while the tilt of the hillside invigorates movement within the background. Intricate textures produce a tactile quality, both across the surface of the tree and throughout the leaves and sticks on the ground.
A study in line and perspective, A Row of Trees on the Path to Kendal Castle presents nature as a regimented yet organic array of contrasts. Staunch trees anchor the space with solid verticals and horizontals, even as the diagonal of the ground lends a sense of movement to the space. The dark characters spring out of the brightly carpeted forest floor, surrounded by fresh, wispy trees: a juxtaposition of old and new. Additional signs of the life cycle appear in the fallen tree to the right-another strong line that grounds the perspective and launches the viewer's eye around the canvas. Blake's sophisticated, precise brushwork imparts the sheer beauty of the landscape and highlights nature's enduring life cycle.
California Driveway focuses on nature's splendor, this time within an idyllic suburban setting. Here, the road, house, and other manmade constructs are secondary, overshadowed and even subsumed by the unstoppable fluorescence of nature. A full composition illustrates the fecundity of the environment, yet also invites the viewer inside as organic lines and shapes progress from foreground to background and back again. The impressionistic scene conveys the softness and placidity of the environment, as Blake celebrates its purity of light, color, and open space.
Regarding Blake's work, the late Dr. Edmund P. Pillsbury, former director of the Kimbell Art Museum, once wrote: "With an austere but variegated palette, augmented by the discipline of a consummate draftsman who wants every nuance of structure and texture revealed to the viewer, James Blake's work celebrates the transformation of experiences through the magic of an affectionate brush and pen." Blake continues to exhibit such an affection, as he marries visual elements with creative ardor to produce modern landscapes that entice and invite the viewer into their space.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Long established in the Fort Worth community, James Blake has been making art for more than five decades. After graduating from the Los Angeles Art Center School and abandoning his pursuit to become a commercial illustrator in New York City, Blake returned to Fort Worth and began making art full time. He was soon discovered by the formidable gallery owner Electra Carlin, who represented him for nearly twenty-five years. Throughout his career, Blake has exhibited work locally in Fort Worth and Dallas, and internationally in Paris, among other cities and venues. In 2006, he was chosen to design the official Christmas card for President George W. Bush and his wife Laura.
Having spent much of his life in Europe and traveling abroad, James Blake is credited with bringing a greater appreciation of international art movements and styles to Fort Worth.
ABOUT THE GALLERY
Founded in 1974 by William and Pam Campbell, William Campbell Contemporary Art exhibits high-quality contemporary art in a variety of media, including paintings, works on paper, mixed-media constructions, photography, prints, ceramics, and sculpture. By exhibiting nationally recognized artists, along with new and emerging talent, the gallery aims to nurture an awareness and appreciation of the exciting diversity found in contemporary art.