Elizabeth Thompson

“FORTY YEARS OF PAINTING”
Runs from December 1, 2018 – March 2, 2019
Artist Reception – Thursday, December 6, 2018 6pm.
Open to the Public

December 1, 2018 – March 2, 2019

FORTY YEARS OF PAINTING

 

“In 1976, I came to Paris after college on a Rotary fellowship to study painting at the École des Beaux-Arts. Three days into my fellowship I met my future husband, and my art grew with our life together. We lived in Paris and bought a cottage in Ocean Ridge, Florida, where I still live today. By 1978, I had my first solo exhibition in Paris, Rue de Seine.
My work has always been rooted in the power of space. I began by painting beaches with their energetic and wide-open vistas. After settling in Paris, I painted the architecture—sensual, polyphonic and romantic. In Florida, my work featured swimming pools, usually at night, that were weightless platforms for constructed tableaus. In 1989, I went to Zimbabwe to research a mural commissioned by a mining company headquartered in England. I traveled through Africa and found new inspiration in the landscapes, such as Lake Kariba, the estuaries of Botswana and waterlilies floating in front of high gold grass. When I exhibited the paintings, more than a few viewers commented on the landscape’s resemblance to the Everglades. I decided to investigate, and when I floated through a tunnel of mangroves, I was hooked.

In the 1990s, I painted site-specific murals commissioned by various clients. When I first graduated from college, I won a competition to design a plan to paint 135 huge oil tanks on the Hudson River. After that, painting a building, or the bow of a ferry boat, or the view from the top of a bridge did not seem so daunting. I loved the adventure of each project and the challenge of coming up with the right solution for each set of circumstances. Location has always informed my work, from Paris and Florida backyards and pools to Africa and the Everglades. Site specific work dovetailed nicely with this tendency, as I let the settings and its emotions, character and identity be shaped by my outlook and technique.
I became a widow in 2006, and shortly thereafter I got a residency in the Everglades National Park. I was captivated by nature’s ability to heal and adapt, the contrast between energetic growth and overt decay. My work began to incorporate a multitude of local, natural images, illustrating the cyclical relationship between life and death. The Everglades helped me to heal, taught me to look, and made me afraid for the planet’s future. The paintings that I call “Modern Interventions,” construct hypothetical scenarios, are examples of the intrusion of man into nature. They continue the theme of poetic isolation and emphasize the striking juxtaposition of handmade work in a machine-made world. My art always has centered on the careful observation of nature. I have been painting Florida for over forty years, and I now see significant environmental trauma and transformation. Disasters and extreme weather have become my subjects. Environmental Armageddon is suggested by tidal waves, extreme weather or perhaps bombs. To paint a changing environment is to chronicle a changing world. These are depictions of unabashed fear, decay and destruction that previously were unimaginable. For me, it is important that we don’t look away from these images, and through looking, they still can be beautiful.”

-Elizabeth Thompson

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