Non-Studio Updates: New to the site are two essays:
Dr. Stephen R. C. Hicks
Associate Professor of Philosophy,
Chairman of the Department of Philosophy,
and Director of the Honors Program in Liberal Arts
at Rockford College, Rockford, Illinois.
Michael Newberry argues that, contrary to Rand, Torres and Kamhi (authors of What Art Is) do not recognize the connections between major art forms and the metaphysical questions they seek to answer. Many of the authors' conclusions, including their re-definition of Rand's concept of art, are based on a negation of these connections. But such links are crucial to Rand's concept of metaphysical value-judgments; Newberry provides examples in support of Rand's view.
From The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies 2, no. 2 (Spring 2001): 1-.
The rest of this month's Studio Update is devoted to a review of my work by archaeologist, Byzantium scholar, and art critic Thodoris Archontopoulos. I have included the images he writes about.
(All the studies below will be labeled by a letter that represents the title of which the study was for. W=The Waterfall, P=The Man by the Pond, S=The Slipper, and R=God Releasing Stars into the Universe.)
Newberry at To Dentro (The Tree)
Thodoris A. Archontopoulos
H Podiaki--The Rodiaki, Thursday 27th June 1996
Michael Newberry exhibits his works in Rhodes at the salon-like gallery To Dentro (The Tree), June 15th through July 13th 1996.
Newberry has lived in Rhodes since 1995. Previously, he studied art in Los Angeles and in Holland, and has exhibited in The Hague, Brussels, New York, and frequently in Los Angeles. He taught drawing and composition for four years at Otis/Parsons College of Art and Design, in Los Angeles.
In 1995 he exhibited in the Bastion of Saint George, sponsored by the Cultural Organization of the Municipality of Rhodes and the Archaeological Service of the Dodecanese.
This years exhibition is of large canvases and their preparatory studies in pastel and pencil on paper. This exhibition represents a profound confession to all of us and an absolutely transparent look into the communication between the audience and the artist. Newberry shows us, in an uncommon way, how and even, perhaps, why he paints.
(I include the Waterfall here because the studies were part of the exhibition.)
He presents three large unfinished paintings and 45 preparatory studies. We get a special look into the construction of the paintings through their relation to the studies. The studies are made with different techniques in the mediums of pastel, pencil, and oil; however, they are connected by a common cause and relate to one another. The association between the studies is form and light. The basic idea and the message combine with the color to create a personal aesthetic.
The character of this exhibition reveals the genesis of painting, and it also allows us to grasp how these expressive studies are combined by a common vision - an unusual concept for an exhibition.
By observing these two elements, the paintings and their studies, we can locate the common rudiments of form, composition, light, and atmosphere. The studies differences of details, atmospheric light, and colors give us a sense of the time involved, and how they contribute to the elevation of the aesthetic of the paintings.
Newberry starts with an idea. Here, the studies dont tell exactly what the idea is! Is it the subject? Is it the atmosphere? Is it the light?
Many times the first studies are of pure colors, which can be very abstract for us. The atmosphere of the studies can be of depth, or of details. At other times he is preoccupied with the form and the light.
R P W
In one of the paintings, Man By the Water, he paints the reflections of light on the fabric of the clothes, and the reflections of the clothes on the surface of the water.
Newberry works the human body like a surgeons intricate incisions.
With the pencil or pastel drawings we observe the immediacy of his observations of the subjects. These studies have sensuality because they start and end with his direct visual stimuli. His technical executions have been defined through the experience, ability, and sensitivity which characterize him. Seeing these studies in pastel we find an interesting relationship with the compositions that he presented last summer at the Bastion of St. George. They also have a play of light and color, an atmospheric journey.
Even though the studies are complex, we can see the importance of the forms or the environment. Its like seeing stills from a movie clip, panoramic shots and close-ups of areas, bodies, rocks, clothes, legs, and arms. The pastel environmental studies have the dimensions of theatrical setting; the forms rotate, and move.
P P P
P P P
W S W
His work on the canvases is done in two technical stages: the first one is done in the style of the Old Masters, a painted black and white ground in which the tonal scale of grays brings out the light and the forms. In the concluding stage, he applies colors in a more direct and free manner.
On the three canvases there is still the charcoal grid markings which enable him to transfer information in the correct scale from the smaller studies.
He has consciously selected the working drawings and the "work in progress" paintings for this exhibition. He presents real observations, fictitious flights, and perspective drawings in these studies. The subject of the paintings persists in the studies. What also is prominent is the importance of fabric as a compositional and color unit. The fabric studies are in pencil and pastel. The studies taken as a whole have something of the rhythm of a musical composition.
S P S
Also exhibited are three numbered lithographs which are very characteristic because they combine the former techniques and similar subjects. In Awakening, the naked womans form sitting at the window reminds one of the pencil studies for the oil paintings. And the ornate fabrics of The Ginger Jar remind one of the walls texture and carpet in The Woman Kicking Off the Slipper. The flying woman in Ascension is the concept for an earlier painting.
As the unfinished paintings dont have formal titles, for the time being, I will give them temporary titles:
The Man by the Water. Nature? Idealization of Nature? Creation of Nature? [Unfinished and destroyed by the artist.]
It is a painting full of light. Our eyes turn automatically to the source of the light, which is to the right somewhere outside of the painting. The central axis is horizontal with the water in the foreground, the mid-ground is the form of the reclining man, and the background is of rocks and sky. The composition is carefully designed with mostly converging diagonal lines. A sense of peace and harmony come out through the sense of perspective and the detailing of the various elements. We have the picture of a beautiful inspired moment. This gives us the feeling that we can actually put our fingers into the water and share the moment. The rocks in the depth and the water in front are a fantastic, idealized landscape which comes to play equally important roles with the protagonist of the painting.
All this is lit by a light that does not make us close our eyes because it is not dazzling. The light creates the color and tonal contrast in the painting. The quietly exalted dreamer is matched by the landscape which is not a copy of nature but is a concept of nature.
Newberry gives a picture full of symbols and points which make us think. The water on which the man reflects gives us the impression of a lake more than of the sea. The rolled up sleeves, the open shirt, the thin material of the slacks give us a sense that the light on them is a warm light. The clothes are beautiful and soft as if woven by the light. The hues are warm and idyllic. Has the man just been lying down? Is he going to put his leg in the water?
The Man: Energy/The Man Exalted (God Releasing Stars Into the Universe, 1993-2000)
This is a big composition that is in transition from black and white underground painting to color overlay. The subject is a man on his outspread knees, with his eyes and mouth open wide, and his outreaching hands extended in an ecstatic gesture. The man is releasing a current of fantastic light that weaves and curves through the night space. There are rocks in the foreground and underneath him. In the background there is indication of mountains to come. The artist is only beginning to apply color to his black and white underground work but the vibrations of light and shadow are already perceptible.
The man is naked, unaffected, pure. And he becomes one with the energy. The man is a physical catalyst for the expression of the light; the light is the mans nature.
The Woman Kicking Off Her Slipper: Narration of an Act (The Slipper, 1999)
The woman is the heroine of the scene. She dictates the image. The composition is made up of several diagonal axis lines that efflux and create effusion, her arms, her legs, beams of light, accented lines of fabric all shoot out from the womans midsection. The depth and the environment have not been painted in yet but she has sense that they will be made just for her. Soft fabrics, full of curves and sensuality, and warm and charming colors surround her. We have the sense that if we lean, we will see her from a new perspective, perhaps the line of her stomach or the profile of her breast. The sole of her out-shot foot is curvy and pliant, and at the same time it is a provocative compositional abstract shape. Not only do her hands express, but also her entire figure represents a gigantic gesture, joyful, irreverent, and erotic. The story that Newberry narrates is full of details: the womans smile, the flung fabrics, and the unabashed expression combined with enticingly warm hues. The womans form is molded from the dancing colorful light that energizes her skin.
Thodoris A. Archontopoulos is an archaeologist, Byzantium art historian, and art critic.
January will have a bunch of new updates both in the studio and career wise. See you then.