Emerging Artists | Elaine Kurie

Exquisite minimalism

Elaine Kurie, Blue Glass & Lemon, oil, 24 x 36.

Elaine Kurie, Blue Glass & Lemon, oil, 24 x 36.

This story was featured in the November 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art November 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

As a child, New Jersey artist Elaine Kurie frequently traveled into Manhattan with her family to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Frick Collection, where she would gaze into famed paintings by the old masters, awed by the precision and fine brushwork. Viewing those masterworks left an indelible impression on the budding young artist. Not surprisingly, she gravitated toward realism in her own work years later. “I think I made that choice at age 6,” laughs Kurie, who studied at Temple University’s Tyler School of Art. “My early influences really stayed with me and informed what I do.”

Today, in her still lifes and figurative works, the contemporary realist painter seeks to convey serenity, clarity, and strength through spare, refined compositions. She uses a “restrained color palette” with primarily cool temperatures, and she paints in thin layers to achieve subtle transitions in tone. In her still lifes, Kurie features just a few objects against crisp, spotless backdrops, highlighting simple pairings, such as a glass jar alongside stones, seashells, or sprigs of lavender, or silky white fabric draped between a sunlit lemon and a lustrous turquoise vase. The artist’s studio is full of windows and skylights, and her easel, taboret, and still-life table are all on wheels so that she can move them around her studio in search of favorable patterns of light and shadow. “I’m literally chasing the light,” she chuckles. “I work with the lighting until the form of each object is revealed with precision and clarity.”

Natural light also plays a leading role in figurative works like ASK LA COUR, Kurie’s emotive portrait of a principal dancer in the New York City Ballet. In the rehearsal room where she photographed the dancer, windows supplied soft wisps of daylight, illuminating his muscular silhouette as he posed. When he leaned into a particularly moving stance, folding his hands gracefully across his chest, it perfectly captured his warm, expressive spirit, says Kurie. Her subsequent painting received first place in the Portrait Society of America’s member competition last year. The artist’s oils have also garnered recent recognition from other prestigious groups, but little about her style has changed since she began painting 25 years ago, notes Kurie. “It’s the same,” she says simply. “It’s me.” —Kim Agricola

representation
William Ris Gallery, Jamesport, NY; www.elainekuriestudio.com.

This story was featured in the November 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art November 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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