Colors are inherently evocative. Our natural world bursts with colors, many of which are as quickly associated with feelings as they are a time and place. Green may conjure emotions of renewal, birth, and growth; Blue: purity, cleansing, and calm; Red: vitality, violence, and birth. Colors stir something within us, they are their own stories.
STORIES IN COLOR, Keyes Art gallery’s newest exhibit, opens with a public reception on Saturday, October 22, from 5:00–6:30 pm adjacent to The American Hotel, 45 Main Street, Sag Harbor, NY 11963. The exhibit will be available to the public through Thursday, December 1st, 2022. Regular gallery hours are 10 am–8 pm, 7 days a week.
The show features more than 20 pieces by Hartley, including his Ukraine Series, with proceeds benefiting the Olena Zelenska Foundation. Newly founded by the First Lady of Ukraine, the organization’s mission is to provide aid for medicine, education, and humanitarian aid. During her recent New York City visit, Hartley met with Mrs. Zelenska, noting, “I found her quiet strength and confidence contagious.”
Harley’s expressionist art is inspired and informed by the subjects of his paintings. Strong foundations of colorful intensity and texture connote power and resolve, a consistent motif throughout the work on display. The stories told are not literal but rather figurative portraits of a harrowing subject matter, the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Hartley describes his work in the exhibit as “…expressing a narrative, a thought in color and brushstrokes…”
Viewing the art, I found myself inspired and reminded of the patriotic power of pride and the universal love of one’s home. “I want to inspire others,” explains Hartley, “to support the defenders in Ukraine as they fight against this brutal invasion.”
More than war and violence, the inspiration for this exhibit appears to be hope, strength, and resilience. Hartley’s use of color is stark and lays bare the emotions of invasion. As artist George Negroponte writes of the series, “a directed punch thrown in outrage…It is a plea for freedom…” That there is more than one color on the canvas is hope in itself.
This impassioned exhibit, Ted Harley’s third on display at Keyes Art in Sag Harbor, presents two new paintings as part of his Ukraine Series accompanying the series-beginning work, “Kyiv: Pro Patria.” Currently on loan from an anonymous “friend of the Ukrainian patriots” (proceeds of the sale benefited Ukrainian aid), “Kyiv: Pro Patria” is a fiery glow of contrasting hues celebrating Ukrainian success in repelling the Russians.
”Retreat from Snake Island” (acrylic on canvas) is inspired by the refusal of Ukrainian lightkeepers to abandon an island to invading Russian forces. A frenetic explosion of colors, the violence drips from the canvas as red, representing Russian invasion, and blood attempts to overtake the other colors, ultimately smearing into brown. Where they mix, the colors are no longer distinct, instead an earthy, decaying brown. It seems as if death has no color and cannot tell a story.
“Red Flight from Izium” (acrylic on canvas) depicts Ukrainian forces striking back at Izium 7 months into the illegal invasion and occupation of Russian forces. As the exhibit opens, the battle is still in process. The piece presents a tentative triumph as coalescing yellow and blue form a pattern, a loose organization that repels the chaotic red from spilling over the entire canvas. Layers and splatters of acrylic paint are textured, granting the work density and hardness to reflect the complexity of war.
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