Show Preview | American Fauves

Denver, CO
Arts at Denver, September 21-October 20

Cynthia Rosen, Rolling Hills, oil, 18 x 24.

Cynthia Rosen, Rolling Hills, oil, 18 x 24.

This story was featured in the September 2018 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art September 2018 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

Known as the “wild ones” of the French art world, the Fauves reimagined what representational art could be. Using bright colors and energetic paint application, artists including Henri Matisse, André Derain, and Franz Marc sought to portray an emotional response to their subject rather than creating a perfect replica. It is a tradition that has persisted throughout history as more artists bring their emotions to the forefront of their work.

The spirit of the Fauves comes alive on the walls of Arts at Denver this month. Gallery owner Paula Colette Conley has rounded up a host of artists whose work is inspired by the themes and techniques of Fauvism. The show opens on Friday, September 21, with an artists’ reception from 5 to 8 p.m. Vibrant works by Margaretta Caesar, Erin Hanson, Cynthia Rosen, and Michael Clark hang alongside more traditional landscapes, providing a juxtaposition between the styles. “One of my favorite groups of painters were the French Fauves,” Conley says. “I thought the idea of these gorgeous pieces hanging next to more traditional paintings would be a lovely contrast.”

Hanson brings a number of landscapes painted during her travels through the countryside of California and Texas. Inspired by artists such as Vincent van Gogh and Paul Cézanne, Hanson says she found her work becoming Fauvist without her conscious decision. “They were all about using flat planes of color to express emotion,” she says. “I am also using colors that I respond to on an emotional level instead of just painting what I see.” Hanson says the show provides a glimpse into each artist’s individual expressions about how they see the world.

“The Fauves tried to challenge people,” Caesar says. “I’m trying to challenge myself while still being myself.” Caesar’s signature landscapes utilize bright color and strong lines to emphasize the mood of each painting. The artist relates to Fauvism because of its roots in expressionism. “My color choices are the door to my imagination,” she says. “I’m working hard to find that balance between loose, big brush strokes and a level of sophistication.
But there is always color.”

Clark also strives to find balance in his bold brush strokes and thick paint application when creating anything from florals and still lifes to landscapes completed en plein air. While the subjects are recognizable, many of his works lean toward abstraction. Yet the harmonious, vivid colors continue to evoke the peace he finds in his subjects.

Rosen has felt a deep connection with Fauvism ever since she fell in love with Franz Marc’s colorful horses. “When the Fauves came out they were given their name because they painted differently and people thought they didn’t know what they were doing,” she says. “As a plein-air painter, I’ve been fighting for the right for nontraditional landscape artists to be recognized in the plein-air world.” While she doesn’t deliberately pattern her work after the Fauves, Rosen says she has the same desire to utilize color to portray the beauty and vitality of nature. The artist brings several landscapes, as well as a few still lifes and floral pieces. “It was a wonderful treat to be asked to be part of a show that recognizes, in a good way, a tradition that wasn’t overtly acknowledged,” she says. “But it still had the veracity to come through in a number of artists’ work today.” — Mackenzie McCreary

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This story was featured in the September 2018 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art September 2018 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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