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New Canaan Library

The Impressionist Landscape

The Impressionist Landscape: Demitri Wright at Weir Farm and Abroad. On display June 2-July 10, 2016.

Curators’ StatementDmitri Wright is an American Impressionist painter with a deep interest in the tradition of Impressionism and its light-saturated, form-dissolving techniques.

A Master Artist/Instructor for the Weir Farm National Historic Site, the only National Park dedicated to painting, he has painted the landscape, house and barns that were home to J. Alden Weir and his family—and a frequent destination for Childe Hassam, John Henry Twachtman, and many other American painters. Several of the paintings in this exhibit celebrate the legacy of the landscape at Weir Farm, which this year is commemorating the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.

“Go out and learn to paint with a stick,” J. Alden Weir once said to a student to inspire him to experience directly the natural world around him. One of Wright’s paintings is titled “Painting with a Stick at Weir Farm.” In this work, a self-portrait of sorts, the figures of Wright and his wife Karen seem to blend into the colors of the landscape while the wings of a bird catch the sun overhead. The red barn behind them sits solidly on the ground; everything around it moves in the light. The New England barns and buildings in the Weir Farm paintings are characteristic of the American tradition. Like his forebears in American Impressionism trained in the Academy tradition, Wright retains a bit of structure, of materiality, in the wild dance of Impressionism.

The paintings in this exhibition include works from his Weir Farm Plein Air series and new works from his “Mindscape” series, French and Italian landscapes painted on his European travels. Wright often finds himself tugged between the American sense of place and the European tradition with its pure and sensuous illusion. The colors in these paintings are full of the intensity and movement of light. In these scenes, structures turn into pockets of light, skies and fields merge and flow into one another, and sheep on a hill are tiny and elusive as thrown rice. In his newest works, much to his delight, Wright has found that the colors of his European paintings are creeping into the New England scenes. In all of his paintings, as he says, “an environment of light through colors is dreamt into existence.”

Artist's Statement: I look to enhance natural beauty by bringing forth the transcendent and the invisible of what is occurring below the surface, for my brush is dancing upon the atoms of colors. My palette is composed of juxtaposed colors. My color selection is based upon my plein-air experience of working in an intensity and movement of the light of France’s Provence and Cote d’Azur; Italy’s Lazio, Tuscany and Umbria; and New England’s coastal regions.

My method is lyrical and poetic, where all contact is direct with each piece and dedicated to revealing working in the moment of creating; the work embodies a representational method with an integration of the impressionist and expressionist schools. My vision and training is rooted in the academy’s classics where the organizational drawing is an illustrative narrative that retains the traditional subject of the landscape.

Through my brushwork I look to capture through color movement multiple contrapuntal motions, such as what is in music: contrary, similar, parallel and oblique movements. It is an inventive shorthand looking to contain the three components of the rhythmic energy of Impressionism: sensitivity, tempo, and charge. In finishing up the work, I seek to complete it in the moment of the experience where an environment of light through colors is dreamt into existence. I apply expressive elements to create an image poetry piece with jazzical notes.

The Impressionist Landscape