I visited two galleries over the weekend and it was hard to select only one artist or a particular painting, as there are some wonderful works of art at these galleries. I am an animal lover, especially when it comes to wildlife and the endangered species. I found one painting in particular that really caught my eye the moment I walked into the gallery. The painting called “Polar Bear Cub”, done by Richard Murray, made me stare at the depth perception and the intuitive perspective it held. It is located at the Mockingbird Gallery on Wall Street
in Bend, Oregon. http://www.mockingbird-gallery.com
I thought Murray had a natural feel for animals specifically so I have chosen to write about him as well as his beautiful painting. He has the Florentine style with his humanization and yet he also has the Flemish style in that he makes the painting so real. I thought he had so many beautiful paintings of different animals but the one thing that I noticed the most was the realism that he brought to these animals. I felt that there is omnivoyance with the animal’s eyes which gave me the impression they were gazing at me with inquisitiveness and caution- possibly reflecting my own gaze as these animals are wild. I felt that the light and dark color created the virtual reality of this Polar bear just as if I were standing right there next to him. This painting is 50″ H and 49″ W which also gave me the feeling of how big, actually how giant; he really is in his natural habitat. To me this is truly a view through a window to this polar bears natural place, giving me a deeper respect for all animals.
I could almost feel the polar bear’s physical presents. The polar bear seemed to maintain his distance, yet as he cautiously observed me just as I did him. I believe Murray gave this polar bear cub individuality as well as personality and character. I felt he painted this animal for just what it is; a wild polar bear. It does not resemble some soft cuddly bear that you want to take home. I felt that this was also true about his other animal paintings, seen for what they really are. I think that Murray looks and paints naturally by seeing. I feel that he occupies the space with the paint of the cub and the darkening of the background, giving it stacked perspective along with flat plains of color making the painting a painting, although it has no humans and landscape. I believe that is how it should be, without humans! This is also seen in his other animal paintings.
I also noticed that he also uses chiroscuro in his paintings modeling from light to dark giving the bear the right shadows that holds true to its wildness. I think this painting holds classical composition as well. I felt he adds the Intuitive perspective with the lines of energy that one can almost feel. He uses loose and free-flowing lines which brings the animals to life with naturalness and texture. The texture of the bear fur was amazing to me at how natural looking it was. Thus, I feel that life’s energy is apparent in the animals he paints.
According to Murray, ” If god has given all these animals to man, to do with them what he likes, a lot of stewardship is required, and we obviously haven’t done well with that or the environment.” According to Mockingbird Gallery, “he feels that animals have been robbed of their individuality through selective breeding and by terminating less marketable strains. He adds that some animals are extinct or on the verge of extinction because so many have been hunted for Ivory, fur or for invading human territory. In his paintings, Murray addresses the concerns by paying reverence to each animal’s uniqueness and right to life, celebrating the lives of animals.” I, too, feel as strongly as he does regarding animals and I respect his “paying reverence to each animal’s uniqueness and right to life.” I feel that this shows throughout his entire paintings of animals.
Murray said that he has been painting for over 20 years and with each painting there is an experiment. He also stated that there is a constant strain dealing with the pressures of what the public wants and, therefore, and devoted the rest of his career do what just feels right. For him, it is painting the animals. When I heard this, it made me think about the Exhibits of Rejects in the realism, impressionism and post impressionism era coming into modernization-Manet with his different style was pulling away from tradition with his cutting edge in modernism, for instance. I also think about the painting, “Little Girl in the Blue Chair” by Mary Cassatt.
The pressures they all must have endured from the public-to see and hear that artists still have the pressures in this century-must have been great. Further, I feel that Murray made a good choice by going with what he feels as being a painter. It shows in his work that animals are his love and respect. He also said, “I like to start a new painting each day if I can. That’s the easy part for me. The hard part is finishing (and) knowing when to stop.” How true this must be for all artists!