Earth, Sea, Sky (South)
Opening Reception: Tuesday, July 31
Barbara Prey Projects is proud to announce Earth, Sea, Sky (South), featuring recent paintings of internationally celebrated artist Barbara Ernst Prey, July 15 - September 4. The title Earth, Sea, Sky (South) stands in reference to Prey's concurrent exhibition at the Wendell Gilley Museum (Barbara Ernst Prey: Earth, Sea, Sky July 1 to October 14, 2018) located north of Port Clyde on Mount Desert Island. This exhibition considers Prey's distinct perspective as a 21st century female artist, revising the male dominated art-historical watercolor tradition, as she explores the depth of the American landscape and American identity.
Prey’s aesthetic vision is influenced by her scholarly background in art-history, memory and keen observation of her natural and man-made environs both intellectually and emotionally. The artist never shies away from challenging opportunities to open up new perspectives and push traditional boundaries. For her recent MASS MoCA commission, considered the largest watercolor in the world, Prey explored new ways to paint on a monumental scale.
MASS MoCA just unveiled Building 6, a massive addition of 130,000 square feet of exhibition space, and to inaugurate the new wing, more than a dozen exhibitions by a powerful array of blue chip artists are on display, one of which is something of a meta-show. Barbara Ernst Prey‘s Building 6 Portrait: Interior consists of a singular work—a giant, framed, 8′ x 15′ watercolor painting depicting the pre-renovation version of the same space the piece is housed in.
Her NASA commissions documenting space history changed Prey’s perspective, it required her to reflect on our place in the universe.
New York based, Prey has maintained a studio on the coast of Maine for 40 years. The artist’s keen observation of “land, sea and sky” features works that mine a uniquely American tenor with a relationship between narrative and abstract, creating a tension that is both serene and unnerving. The often-seen empty stacked lobster traps or the crumbling façade set against an otherwise picturesque backdrop in Prey’s recent oil painting Weather Beaten serve as metaphors for the increasingly difficult lives of local fishermen. Acadia, 2018 depicts the stunning beauty of Mt. Desert Island, but in its vastness can be read as loneliness as well, while stressing the importance of nature in an age of fast-paced social media technology, and invites the viewer to pause and look - look at the rich colors, the layering of deep reds above the saturated blues and oranges, vividly reminding us of these spectacular color combinations from nature.
Her dialogue with color drove Prey to develop groundbreaking, intricate layering techniques. Beginning with marks on paper, and then built up through her evocative use of color and dozens of thin washes, often incorporating parts of her surrounds - water, soil, crushed shells, paint chips from a former factory building add distinctive character to her work.