Santa Fe, NM
October 25-November 8
This story was featured in the October 2013 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art October 2013 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!
When painter Albert Handell moved from the East Coast to New Mexico 30 years ago, he was astonished. “I got bowled over by the light,” he recalls. “The blue of the sky threw me. A number of my paintings didn’t make it.” With three decades’ worth of painting experiences in the Southwest now behind him, Handell is still intrigued by the vibrant blue sky and surrounding landscape. His latest group of 34 pastel and oil paintings, on display in a solo show at Ventana Fine Art this month, continue to explore his passion for the landscape. The gallery hosts an opening reception for the artist from 5 to 7 p.m. on Friday, October 25.
Santa Fe, the Carmel coastline, and rocks are the subjects for many of the works in the show, and Handell doesn’t avoid painting places he’s painted before because he knows he’ll never capture the same scene in the same way. “The key to deciding what to paint on any given day lies in what specifically grabs my eye,” he explains. “Suddenly, something outside touches something inside of me, and I know I have to paint it.”
In recent years, Handell has become fascinated with rocks. Nearly a third of the paintings in the show feature rocks from New Mexico’s mountain streams and the Carmel, CA, coast. “I’m interested in their weight and the cracks they have in them,” he says. “These cracks tell a story. I focus on the inner life of the things I paint.”
Each pastel painting is created en plein air, since being in direct contact with the landscape as much as possible is an essential part of Handell’s painting process. Oils are painted in the studio with photographs for reference. “I haven’t changed my painting style much in many years,” he says. “My oils have more of a textural quality than they used to years ago, and I’d say that they have richer colors. But overall, I’ve been painting the way I paint for a long time.”
Wolfgang Mabry, fine-art consultant at Ventana Fine Art, says there are good reasons why Handell has earned the sobriquet “The Quiet Master.” “His paintings, whether in oil or pastel, reveal the master’s touch in composition, color, design, and choice of subject, and a brilliant understanding and application of opposites,” says Mabry. “Translucent washes and glazes underlie judicious areas of higher texture in his oils, producing a topography that catches and holds rapt attention bordering on awe. He also blends realism with a degree of abstraction in a fusion of ideals, which has come to be recognized as another signature Handell characteristic. Handell creates atmosphere in his paintings, awakening that magical something in viewers, something beyond aesthetic or emotional stimulus—a long-lasting sense of being in the presence of greatness.” —Emily Van Cleve
Featured in the October 2013 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
Southwest Art October 2013 print issue or digital download
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