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John Fincher Classics


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John Fincher Classics

July 28 - September 10.2017

LewAllenGalleries Railyard Arts District | 1613 Paseo de Peralta | Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501 | tel 505.988.3250 www.lewallengalleries.com | contact@lewallengalleries.com

cover: Burst, 2016, oil on canvas, 32 x 30 in


John Fincher Classics Classics is an exhibition that includes new paintings as well as selected classic works from earlier years, representative of John Fincher’s distinctive style of realism and illustrating his facility with a wide range of image choice. For more than 40 years, Fincher has been known for his legendary images of prickly pears, big skies, and landscapes of the Southwest—what he has called “trappings of the West.” He blends lush color, nuanced line, and gorgeous light with quirky perspective and whimsical detail. But as this exhibition also illustrates, Fincher has created fascinating work that features subjects far different from his regional “trappings.” This show includes examples both of his iconic Western imagery as well as selections drawn from the artist’s personal archives illustrating other notable themes, such as his recently inaugurated and wellreceived Botanica series, and forays into figurative paintings inspired by classical sculpture. Fincher’s Western "trappings" paintings encapsulate references, both familiar and totemic, of the Great American Frontier and its mythic role as a reservoir of pride, strength, individualism and renewal. Distinguished by a singular blend of sensuality and authentic realism, his art explores diverse personal and art-historical references to offer new understandings of America's natural and cultural landscapes. Exercising a profound economy of means, his works derive startling emotional resonance from a combination of rigorously balanced composition, nuanced brushwork, dramatic shadowing, and the application of intense points of contrasting colors to punctuate significant visual elements. His images of towering poplars, pine limbs set against crystalline skies, richly hued desert hillsides, the array of colors within canopies of aspens turning, and aggressively cropped prickly pears unravel the manifold cultural meanings inscribed within representations of the mythic American West. The exhibition also includes major works from Fincher’s newest series entitled “Botanica” that first premiered in the exhibit at LewAllen during the summer of 2015. The artist has created new works for it that continue to engage, from his unique point of view and with his own distinctive sense of composition and color palette, the ancient tradition of botanical art. That lineage includes the work of such historic masters as Leonardo da Vinci, Abrecht Dürer, Jan Brueghel and Pierre-Joseph Redouté. Fincher departs from the formality of the exotic or ornamental floral subjects used by these predecessors and propels it to a new level of contemporary vitality by featuring humble pictorial choices of seed pods, 2


desiccated leaves, and flowers more associated with the desert Southwest than European gardens. His reinterpretation of the tradition’s subject matter and arrangements extends and invigorates them with Fincher’s innovative all-over compositions of elements cascading and floating randomly on subtle backgrounds of sky and water. These use luminescent color and close-up perspective that serve to valorize details of flora in much the same way as his “Western trappings” have done as touchstones of the American Frontier. Additional works in this show include powerful forays into figuration in the form of paintings of imagery from classical sculpture, signature “shaving brush” paintings, and other examples of Fincher’s immense facility for examining and illuminating the iconic of both the region and in the minds of humanity throughout history.

Like his predecessors, Fincher is profoundly affected by the environment of the Southwest. Through his unique sensibilities, he translates the landscape and regional iconography into animated characters. Under his paintbrush, mountains, cactus, trees and streams come to life, and Fincher has become central in giving us a celebratory vision of this magical place. As Fincher’s work has become more complex, his palette has grown even richer, more subtle and satisfying. His deep emotion for landscape and his love of painting remain clear. Stuart Ashman, Former Director, Museum of Fine Arts in Santa Fe, NM Back in the mid-1970s, John Fincher became Santa Fe’s leading painter of the “new” Old West. His paintings of cowboy boots, spurs, prickly pear cacti, souvenir postcards, Mexican knives, and the Marlboro Man were larger than life-size. Abruptly cropped and artificially outlined, these still-lifes had little that was still in them … [and] separating his paintings from picturesque clichés, Fincher provoked viewers by playing conceptual games with surface and illusion. By the late ‘80s, Fincher’s paintings had grown freer, more expressive. Painterly poplar trees—thrusting upward with vitality—had replaced the more cartoony prickly pear cacti. The painter had dropped his conceptual game, playing for the exuberantly picturesque. Sally Euclaire, Artnews, March 1994 3


It is perfectly clear that John Fincher belongs to the virtuosic class of artist who shamelessly beguiles the viewer by his artistic prowess, his sense of elegance (chic even), his absolute knowledge of his materials and their potential for his well-controlled and complicated ends. His virtuosity has many faces. It impresses with a sense of direct energy. It appears as a visible manifestation of the artist’s power, which in the act of painting is conducted to or fused directly with the image made. That seeming effortlessness, spontaneity, unmediated action, in fact, is the fruit of quiet study and ceaseless exercise. Whichever it is that he takes up to investigate and master – shaving brushes, cacti, poplars, or dotted hills – he first discovers their gestalt as a genus and then as an individual form, different from the others in the series. His connection to nature is evident and real. Each poplar has character, each hill a different pattern, and in each case, we are deeply entertained by the discoveries made for us of the qualities of things. Mira Pajes Merriman, Professor of Art History, Wichita State University, excerpted from a catalog written for a solo exhibition in the 1990s I have observed John Fincher’s development over several decades and what consistently strikes me, first and foremost, is his dedication to his craft. As a teacher of that craft, all have observed he ranked among the most stimulating. Furthermore, I have been impressed, always, by the artist’s sure-footed capacity to hit upon subject matter that consistently and utterly engages his powers of creation. Confronting the vast variety in his oeuvre and its continual inventiveness … one would scarcely guess that this is an artist who often used to fret, as friends can attest, about what one should paint. Jan Adlmann, Former Assistant Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, excerpted from a forward written for the 2012 monograph published by Radius Books, John Fincher A colorist extraordinaire whose canvases undulate with an otherworldly luminosity, Fincher has offered up revolutionary interpretations of landscape paintings, turning the picture plane on its side to contain vertical images of singular forms that represent a seemingly endless panorama. Fincher’s use of color is sophisticated, bold and subtle, all at the same time. There are rich, textural strokes of alizarin crimson overlaying burnt umber or cadmium light, but his complex process imbues so much more into each work. Marilyn Bauer, Western Art and Architecture, March 2015 4


John Fincher’s diverse body of realist works display a fetishistic approach to representational imagery. His paintings of trees, for instance, show an intense focus on a single part, such as a branch or section of branches…. Fincher’s use of alluring colors and color harmonies, combined with a graphic and bold use of line, result in compositions that seduce the eye. But they also deceive; placed within the paintings are representations of inanimate objects and other forms that shouldn’t belong there but appear as though they do. Michael Abatemarco, Pasatiempo, June 2015

White Pine, 2017, Oil on canvas, 38 x 56 in 5


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West of Roswell, 1990 Oil on canvas, 64 x 94 in

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Cold Wind, 2017, Oil on canvas, 32 x 34 in

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Inmortales, 2017, Oil on canvas, 56 x 38 in 9


Desiderio, 1968, Oil on canvas, 30 x 24 in

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David, 2002, Oil on canvas, 48 x 36 in

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Large Brush, 2015, Oil on linen, 19 x 12 in 12


Palm Caps India, 2016, Charcoal on paper, 22 x 15 in

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White Sands, 2017, Oil on canvas, 34 x 32 in 14


Rome Sketch, 1985, Oil on paper, 30 x 22 in 15


Walls of Water and Light, 2017, Oil on canvas, 40 x 40 in

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Prairie, 2016, Oil on canvas, 40 x 18 in

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Flores, 2016, Oil on linen, 18 x 24 in

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Arid Bouquet, 2016, Charcoal on paper, 22 x 15 in

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Jardin Botanico PV, 2017, Oil on canvas, 18 x 34 in 21


Quartet, 1990, Oil on canvas, 9 x 12 in

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Vineyard, 2016, Watercolor on paper, 8 x 8 in 23


Shine, 2016, Oil on canvas, 12 x 18 in

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Vineyard #2, 2017, Oil on canvas, 30 x 32 in 25


John Fincher

b. 1941 Hamilton, TX

EDUCATION 1962 Hardin-Simmons University, Abilene, TX 1964 B.A. Texas Technological College, Lubbock, TX 1966 M.F.A. University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK

1988 1987 1986 1983 1982 1981 1979 1978 1977 1976 1973

SELECTED SOLO AND GROUP EXHIBITIONS 2017 Classics, LewAllen Galleries, Santa Fe, NM 2016 Dialogue, Wichita Art Museum, Wichita, KS 2015 Botanica, LewAllen Galleries, Santa Fe, NM 2012 The Line of Nature, LewAllen Galleries, Santa Fe, NM 2011 Recent Works, LewAllen Galleries, Santa Fe, NM 2010 Enduring Terrain, LewAllen Galleries, Santa Fe, NM 2009 Andrea Friesen Gallery, Sun Valley, ID 2007 Out West: The Great American Landscape, Meridian International Center, Washington, D.C.; National Art Museum of China, Beijing, Shanghai Museum Out of Oklahoma: Contemporary Artists from Ruscha to Andoe, Price Tower Arts Center, Bartlesville, OK On Paper I, Gerald Peters Gallery, Santa Fe, NM 2005 Re-representing Representation VII, Arnot Art Museum, Elmira, NY 2004 Boughs, Branches, & Limbs, Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Oklahoma City, OK 2003 National Drawing Exhibition, Fred Kline Gallery, Santa Fe, NM 2001 LewAllen Galleries, Santa Fe, NM Group Exhibition, Richard Stockton College of New Jersey Art Gallery, Pomona, NJ 1999 Realism Meets Abstraction, Jenkins Johnson Gallery, San Francisco, CA 1997 LewAllen Gallery, Santa Fe, NM 1996 Contemporary New Mexico Artists: Sketches and Schemas, SITE Santa Fe, Santa Fe, NM 1995 LewAllen Galleries, Santa Fe, NM 1994 Artistas Contemporaneo De Nuevo Mexico, Mayor’s Gallery, Guadalajara, Mexico 1993 Elaine Horwitch Gallery, Santa Fe, NM 1992 Contemporary Landscapes, the New Mexico Governor’s Gallery, Santa Fe, NM 1991 Elaine Horwitch Gallery, Santa Fe, NM 1990 J. Cacciola Gallery, New York, NY 1989 Elaine Horwitch Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ

Common Ground, Albuquerque Museum, Albuquerque, NM Elaine Horwitch Galleries, Santa Fe, NM The New West, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, Colorado Springs, CO The 38th Corcoran Biennial of American Painting and Second Western States Exhibition, Concoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC Abilene Fine Arts Museum, Abilene TX Salon D’Automne, Artistes Contemporains Du SudQuest Des ‘Etats-Unis, Grand Palais, Paris, France Santa Fe/Taos, Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE (traveling exhibition) Art in the West, Harrison Museum of Art, Utah State University, Logan, UT Works on Paper, Midland College, Midland, TX Here and Now, The Albuquerque Museum, Albuquerque, NM Elaine Horwitch Gallery, Santa Fe, NM New Mexico Painters, The Elaine Horwitch Gallery, Santa Fe, NM Eight New Mexico Painters, The Elaine Horwitch Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ New Mexico in Toronto, Linda Durham Gallery, Toronto, Canada Robert Rice Gallery, Houston, TX New Mexico Contemporary Painters, Tyler Art Museum, Tyler, TX Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, CA

SELECTED PUBLIC COLLECTIONS Albuquerque Museum of Art & History, NM Bethel College, North Newton, KS Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX Honolulu Academy of Art, HI McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, TX Museum of Abilene, TX New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe, NM Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans, LA Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Oklahoma City, OK Scottsdale Center for the Arts, Scottsdale, AZ Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 26


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Railyard Arts District | 1613 Paseo de Peralta | Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501 | tel 505.988.3250 www.lewallengalleries.com | contact@lewallengalleries.com Š 2017 LewAllen Contemporary LLC Artwork Š John Fincher

John Fincher: Classics  
John Fincher: Classics