Ille Arts Gallery in Amagansett opens a new exhibition, The Day, featuring a painting and video installation by Barbara Thomas today, Saturday, October 1, and it will remain on view through the end of the month.
Thomas has painted the land and seascapes of the East End for more than 30 years and built a reputation for capturing the region’s iconic beauty. The local landscape has changed dramatically over that period, and the artist’s vision has changed with it.
“The paintings are no longer about an existing landscape, because the elements of the natural landscape no longer exist in reality,” she says. “I can paint a beautiful scene, but just out of the canvas perimeter, a housing development or shopping center might have sprung up.”
Thomas’s work has morphed into a more conceptual, internalized landscape while still using all the skills learned over many years painting land, sky and light in her traditional landscapes. Today, the work seeks to address other ideas one might form when viewing the world—the passage of time, feelings that a bright day might illicit, and how they differ from feelings one might get when, for example, observing the moon glowing through clouds.
“The colors change, the wind and air move, clouds form and disappear, the sun glows, and finally there is almost no light at all. Then, it all begins again,” Thomas says, musing about the elements found throughout the hours of each day.
Her exhibition, The Day, comprises 24 oil paintings on separate wood panels. Each is painted in a traditional manner with layers of paint laid down, sanded, and laid down again, to create a depth and glow, to capture the light of each hour as the sun rises, travels, sets and unfolds into night. Each hour becomes its own important moment within the full passage of a day in the life of the planet. The paintings are installed in a grid-like pattern of three rows of eight paintings—roughly, sunrise to midday, midday to late day, and sunset through night. In addition, the show includes 24 small oil sketches, made from life, which map out the larger work.
The video, “The Day,” is a digital composition of photographs and video set to music originally composed by the artist.
“The passage of the day, as much as humanity can codify it, cannot be captured or mutilated, so far. We can do so many vicious things to the Earth, but we cannot change the movement of the Earth around the sun. At least not yet,” Thomas says.
Barbara Thomas’s The Day is on view through October 31 at Ille Arts at 171 Main Street in Amagansett. Call 631-905-9894 or visit illearts.com for more info.