Leslie Sacks Contemporary is pleased to announce an exhibition entitled California Realism, featuring works by Robert Bechtle, Christopher Brown, John Register and Wayne Thiebaud. The exhibition will feature a selection of prints by each artist ranging from notebook sized 6 x 6 inch etchings to larger scale 38 x 40 inch lithographs.
California Realism was in many ways a response to the San Francisco Bay Area Figurative group, which included artists such as Richard Diebenkorn and Nathan Oliveira. While the Bay Area Figurative painters chose to paint abstract figures and settings, the California Realists were classically trained draftsmen who looked towards the larger movement of American Realism of the 1920s and 30s, including the work of Edward Hopper, Norman Rockwell, Grant Wood and Andrew Wyeth. Like this earlier movement, California Realists depicted ordinary everyday moments in public and private life. Their works evoked feelings of nostalgia for an earlier time by portraying classic American settings, often communicating an added sense of isolation brought on by the expansive California landscape.
While the four artists in the exhibition are interested in similar subject matters, their differing approaches yield distinct aesthetics, moods and themes. Wayne Thiebaud captures moments that depict the sweetness of everyday life. In his landscapes, still-lifes and confections, the simple, yet ephemeral beauty of the ordinary instills a sense of whimsy and sentimentality in the viewer. John Register created settings that were shrouded in stillness and feelings of loneliness. Instead of merely isolating a figure within an environment, Register more regularly estranged the viewer when looking into the painting. Robert Bechtle is interested in subjects that are familiar and mundane. His subdued scenes are of common, daily moments that are at once essential to and indicative of the Californian experience. Christopher Brown often incorporates figures into his outdoor settings. He selects moments in time from a larger event where motion abruptly disturbs stillness, such as train leaving the station or horses at the start of a race, which capture the tension between order and chaos.