DRISCOLL BABCOCK GALLERIES presents Interrupted Spring, an exhibition of oil paintings and works on paper by Alan Gussow (1931-1997), which captures the energy of natural environment through a lively synthesis of abstract expressionism and realism, presenting a profound and poetic artistic vision. Gussow’s unique imagery conveys the intimate link between man and the environment, invoking his personal encounters with the smells, sounds, tastes, and tactile sensations of nature.
“His paintings are elegant, joyous, celebratory and occasionally elegiac representations of the world he treasured and embraced, the world of natural phenomena,” notes John Driscoll, president of Driscoll Babcock.
With nature as his muse, Gussow sought to reconcile his perceptual experiences and transform them into persuasive visual expression. Many works in this exhibition—Interrupted Spring (1975), Vegetable Garden in a March Rain (1975) and Edges of A Delayed Spring (1987)—reflect Gussow’s intuitive awareness of the shifting colors and textures of the changing seasons, as thawing frost and spring rain make way for a lush explosion of buds and greenery. The rich color associations and fluctuating brushstrokes in these works suggest a dynamic shift in focus from the panorama towards the detail, and a new emphasis on the rhythm, color, and texture of the productive earth.
The observational work Evening Bird Song with Crickets and Fireflies (1978), a synesthetic mingling of visual and sound patterns, exemplifies his expansion of painting’s potential to embody sensations that extend far beyond the visual. His quick, darting lines capture the fleeting buzz around him and create a sustained momentum that enlivens the entire surface of the canvas. By the 1970’s, the experience of gardening as a process fully infiltrated Gussow’s work. In May Garden (1976), an all-over pattern of stitch like strokes of black ink at first glance resembles a sort of abstract calligraphy, but in actuality chronicles the hive of invisible activity observed beneath the sprouting soil. The exhibition includes six of black and white ink on paper works, which are being exhibited for the first time.
Gussow desired to create art not simply from the viewing of nature, but from his palpable sense of place. He created a new visual language rooted in man’s universal interconnectedness with nature, one that continued to evolve alongside his own relationship with the environment.
ABOUT ALAN GUSSOW
Driscoll Babcock Galleries has handled the work of Alan Gussow since 2001. The gallery has staged four solo exhibitions of his work: Alan Gussow: A Painter’s Nature (2009), Alan Gussow: Oils (2006), Alan Gussow: Interrupted Spring (2013) and Alan Gussow: Cold Elation (2015). Additionally, Gussow’s work has been the subject of more than a dozen solo museum exhibitions, including the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; The National Arts Club, New York; Flint Institute of Arts, MI; Arkansas Art Center, Little Rock, AK; Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson, MS; and the Portland Museum of Art, Portland, ME.
Gussow’s work can be found in public collections throughout the United States and in Europe, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO; Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Arkansas Art Center, Little Rock, AK; Flint Institute of Arts, MI; Palmer Museum of Art, University Park, PA Montgomery Museum of Art, AL; Greenville County Museum of Art, SC; and the National Museum, Udine, Italy.
In addition to being recognized as an artist, Gussow was an avid environmentalist and activist. He advised Senators Robert F. Kennedy and George McGovern on key environmental issues, served on the Board of Directors of the Friends of the Earth, and had a strong national presence, serving as an expert witness on environmental conservation issues before Congress and several legislative committees. He served as a Consultant in the Arts for the National Park Service, and was an active teacher for 40 years. His many written works include the books, “A Sense of Place: The Artist and the American Landscape” and “The Artist as Native: Reinventing Regionalism.”