Impressionism is an art genre and coined terminology that arose in 1874 by art critic, Louis Leroy. Leroy, was responding to Claude Monet’s painting Impression, Soleil Levant (Impression Sunrise). As a linguistically sarcastic slap at the artist, this term was meant as a derogatory reference to the art, which at that time was almost an evolutional break from the still life, landscape and religious genres dominating Europe in the 19th century. “At most a sketch”, said Leroy, inferring that the painting was not up to the high quality standards of the traditional aesthetics in Paris.
However the term was embraced by the band of artists who were in the group show with Monet; including Cezanne and Degas. The Impressionist exhibition did go on to garner public support as the artists exhibited a sense of freshness, paving way for one of the most significant art movements in the history of Art. Short, thick strokes of paint were applied quickly to capture the essence of the subject, rather than its details. Colors were applied side-by-side with as little mixing as possible. Grays and dark tones were produced by mixing complementary colors. And, the pictorial sense of atmospheric and environmental light was emphasized. Distained by the advent of the camera and the factual illusionistic qualities of the photograph drew artists away from realism, they began to respond to their surroundings in a way that a machine recording time and space could not, giving sense of depth and perception, not of flat spatial effects.
Still practiced by an infinite number of artists today, Impressionism has a stronghold on contemporary art as it did in the 1800’s. Some famous Impressionistic painters include Frédéric Bazille (1841–1870), Gustave Caillebotte (1848–1894), Mary Cassatt (1844–1926), Paul Cézanne (1839–1906), Edgar Degas (1834–1917), Édouard Manet (1832–1883), Claude Monet (1840–1926), and Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841–1919)
Cliff Cavin, a San Antonio based and contemporary impressionist artist has been working in the Texas art community for over 3 and a half decades, giving a unique voice to impressionistic landscapes of Texas and New Mexico.
His work is simple and elegant. Cavin’s signature scenery aesthetic is pure; harkening back to the principles of our impressionistic forefathers – capturing light, gaging time of day; giving in to tones, shadows, and infinite spatial definitions.
However, in the select hanging exhibition at J.R. Mooney Galleries, “Purple Mountains Majesties (Redux)” contrasting light, values, and tones make for bold statements of color choices. Cavin’s blues, purples, oranges, and greens mock each other for audacious visual adventures. He cements the visual stimulus with a jovial rendition of stark lighting casted down by light of day, evening or glorious morning.
Golden Shadows, a mostly orange and carroty painting is balanced by blues that fade to a certain cerulean atmosphere that draws us up in to the clouds. The vast skyline is anchored by the core of the painting – the background with its mountains and hard edged definition. These deliberate divisions make simple strata in the painting, giving way to compositional horizons that play off acute angles; a thoroughly thought-out configuration with stark contrasts coupled with simple color theory. “I found the colors of my surroundings, Texas and New Mexico to be my muse and hoped my audience felt the same; evolving in style and aesthetic along the way.”
Cliff Cavin’s exhibition, “Purple Mountains Majesties (Redux)” will be on exhibit at J.R. Mooney Galleries, Boerne from June 14 – July 12, 2014. The opening for the exhibition will be June 14, 2014 from 4 pm – 8 pm.
© Gabriel Diego Delgado