OIL ON WATER: PAINTINGS OF LAND AND SEA
AUGUST 15 - SEPTEMBER 20, 2015
Opening Reception: Saturday, August 15, 6 - 8 PM
Blue Water Fine Arts is pleased to present an exhibition of new oil paintings by internationally acclaimed artist Barbara Ernst Prey. Oil on Water will feature the new “Village View” series of small-scale plein air oil paintings, along with others completed this year. The series marks a shift in Prey’s technique, and a return, after a forty-year hiatus, from works on paper into the oil paint medium.
For the past four decades, Prey has been known for her incisive, hyper-saturated watercolors that operate as a record of the artist’s constant engagement with the multifaceted, ever-changing American landscape. In the past year, Prey has returned to the medium in which she first began her instruction, and created a new series of small-scale works on panel.
Keenly aware of her environment, the Oil on Water is a synthesis of Prey’s dialogue with her surroundings in Port Clyde, ME and her observations on the same location’s evolution over the course of 35 years. The exhibition presents a meditation on place. The creation of the “Village View” series presented Prey the opportunity to revisit - in an entirely new technical way - the pathways, architectural structures, and vistas she had seen for decades and her family had known before her.
The size of the panels and nature of the oil medium enabled Prey to experiment with levels of freedom and informality not afforded by watercolor. Prey carefully selected the outlooks for these works which when seen together, move along the progression along the main road through the town, but dislocate the viewer from a clean narrative as they feature the same structures and sections from differing viewpoints, times of day and environmental conditions.
The new works sustain Prey’s connection with the familiar landscapes that have shaped her way of seeing, and reiterate the tension between the warmth and boldness of color, and the starkness of the scenes, dramatically devoid of any human presence besides the artist’s or viewer’s that recurs throughout her oeuvre.
Prey’s technical acumen in the medium in which she began painting is at once apparent and is also informed by over 40 years of expertly creating pieces in one of the least forgiving media, watercolors. Most notably, the sense of immediacy characteristic of Prey’s line, which makes her works on paper reverberate with motion carries over to express the environmental elements, sharp, dramatic light to pull viewers into moments inexplicably both static and in motion.
The experience of recreating whole familiar spaces with immediacy, while retaining the ability to edit in a more flexible way opened up the modes of production for painting, but of viewing as well.