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Masterworks by Contemporary Figurative Painters

Written by Kate Harner

BRICHER, Release, 2005,  40 x 36 in.jpg

   Willimantic, Conn. - The Julian Akus Gallery at Eastern Connecticut State University will present "Solemn & Sublime: Contemporary American Figurative Painting" from Oct. 21 through Dec. 2.  A University Hour talk will also take place on Nov. 3 at 3 p.m. in Shafer Auditorium followed by a reception at 5:30 p.m. in the gallery.


COFFEY, Aphaia, 2008, 12 x 11 in.jpg"Solemn & Sublime" draws together the work of 13 living American painters, all of whom honor a centuries-old tradition of figurative work which they infuse with a contemporary sensibility. "Their paintings and drawings are dramatic in scale and awe-inspiring in their technical virtuosity," says gallery director and co-curator Elizabeth Peterson, "but at the same time, the contemporary figures they depict are firmly rooted in our own time and, as such, are relatable.

Many use the traditional media of oil on canvas, but others combine classic draftsmanship with modern materials such as roofing felt, tar or Mylar, which also lends to the contemporary feel of the work." 

CURANAJ, Emit, 2007, 48 x 34 in.jpgThe exhibition was inspired by the catalogue "Selected Contemporary American Figurative Paintings," which was published in 2009 by the Tianjin People's Fine Arts Publishing House and edited by Qimin Liu, Eastern associate professor of visual art, painting and drawing.  "Despite the focus by popular media on new artistic forms in American art, a large number of painters still work on paintings involving realism or the figurative approach," says Liu, co-curator of the exhibition. "Figurative painting has transformed itself and been reborn into a new and exciting era."

DESIDERIO, Spiegel im Spiegel, 2010, 7 x 9 ft.jpgThe artists whose work will be on view in "Solemn & Sublime" include: Bo Bartlett and Scott Bricher; Federico Castelluccio,

Susanna Coffey, Tony Curanaj, Vincent Desiderio, Katherine Doyle, Sidney Goodman, Anne Harris, Mel Leipzig, Qimin Liu, Nelson Shanks

and Sharon Sprung. GOODMAN, Maia with Raised Arm, 2000, 29 x 23 in.jpgThe Akus Gallery is located in the lower level of Shafer at the corner of Windham and Valley Streets in Willimantic.  Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 1 to 7 p.m. on Thursday and 2 to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.  The public is invited.  Admission is free.  For more information regarding this and other exhibitions at Akus Gallery, please call (860) 465-4659 or visit on the web at   


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