On Friday, May 25, Artist Charles Bourke Wildbank will open a major exhibition in the spacious Barn Gallery of Jedediah Hawkins Inn in Jamesport in the North Fork, WILDBANK 35 Years of Art in the East End. The show is scheduled to run through June 24, 2012.
Charles Wildbank’s connection to Long Island’s East End dates to the late 1970s, when he first visited Westhampton Beach, and he has continued to paint in the area ever since. His connection to the countryside and its beaches goes back to his roots in the Manhasset Bay and Roslyn Harbor areas as well as the lakes of Maine. Early in his career Wildbank completed his major in painting and photography at Pratt Institute, using a camera as a “sketchbook” for his paintings and portraits. Deaf since birth, unable to speak throughout much of his youth, Charles’ talent was discovered through his copious pencil sketches rendered for the purpose of communicating his requests for anything he wanted: candy, lost objects, places to visit, animal pets, etc..
Subsequently, Wildbank gained a reputation as a portrait artist through his supportive family and their friends. This solo exhibition will reveal new works in the context of his early work. With 35 years of painting in the East End, Wildbank is arguably one of the most beloved and possibly the most collected artists in the Hamptons. Early works include a large double portrait of David Hockney, plus a surprise extra, an unearthed watercolor portrait of his grandfather painted at the age of 15.
New paintings include magnificently detailed photorealistic portraits presenting larger than life visages of the humanity he silently observes in the world surrounding him; a startlingly giant sleeping infant, a dreadlocked farmer looking beyond himself and the canvas, a young girl attempting a bubblegum challenge as if to puncture the echoing silence of the gallery. Flowing from these highly detailed photo-realistic paintings, more new works: massive abstract murals of ocean waves. ‘I left out the horizon in these sea abstractions to express the expansiveness I feel when I am watching the ocean,” said Wildbank. “Though I cannot hear the waves of the sea, watching it, swimming in it, thrills me beyond any horizon.”
The switch from photorealism to abstraction in the hands of any other artist would seem incongruous, but in the case of Charles WIldbank, it is magnificent. If the portrait series demonstrates Wildbank’s finely detailed perspective, then the wave series zooms his lens in even closer; all the way to the atomic level of water into new horizons.
Wildbank’s new work in this show moves fearlessly from the disciplined realism of the portraits and still life to the exhilarating freedom of his abstract waves. Both the new and the earlier works in this solo show, seduce the viewer to look closer, and, in the words of Charles Wildbank, remind you to “see everything beautiful.”
The exhibition opening will be celebrated on Friday, May 25, at a reception from 4 onto 7 p.m. in Jedediah Hawkins Luce Barn Gallery, on South Jamesport Avenue, a half a block south of 25A Main Street in Jamesport.
If planning upon dining that evening in the area, highly recommended is the Jedediah Hawkins Inn directly across the kitchen herbal garden. Please make your reservations early for this holiday weekend at http://jedediahhawkinsinn.com