Perfect: Part One, a collection of recent paintings by Richard Thompson, will be on display May 19-June 25 at William Campbell Contemporary Art. An opening reception will be held on Thursday, May 19, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. The exhibition will feature more than a dozen oil paintings, watercolors, and other works on paper that do not simply depict, but canonize, the houses, fields, trees, clouds, and other incidentals that characterize the quintessential American countryside.
As a young man I made youthful paintings…
As a middle-aged man I made mature paintings…
As an older man I am finally making art
Perfect: Part One represents the near-pinnacle of an evolution for Thompson, who considers himself on a continuous trajectory of artistic discovery. The paintings, centered on his contemporary interpretations of the American scene, are, he says, theresult of deeper observation and thought processes. “I am working toward some synthesis between what I see in my mind’s eye and what I see in my physical eye,” he explains. “I am working toward some feeling, some sensation, some realization that occurs in that space where those two vectors intersect.”
Living in rural Oregon, Thompson is surrounded by both the natural and manmade constructions that inspire his work. He filters the traditionally bucolic scenery through a Modernist lens, as he considers not only the visual intrigue of the landscape, but also its fundamental anatomy and intricate balance. In this vein, he eschews naturalistic detail to present his vision in stylized interpretations that highlight formal elements and the ways they converse with one another in two-dimensional space. Precisely delineated,Thompson’s objects are often hyper-defined and neatly compartmentalized-a method that reduces spatial division while also giving equal prominence to every area of the composition. Such an effect creates a planar yet faceted surface as well, conjuring a quiet dynamism among the elements.
The bold, undiluted, and heavily concentrated elements that populate Thompson’scanvases transmit a low bustle, gently protruding and receding with ease throughout the picture plane. Their energy emerges from the subtle
vitality of structure, rather than overtly kinetic line progressions.
Thompson wants viewers to stop and look at his work, taking in every aspect of the meticulous and cerebral, though still picturesque, landscapes. He believes that by pausing physically and mentally, one can most effectively experience the true essence of each painting. “I want the viewer to stand still,” says Thompson. “I want the viewer to appreciate the quiet. Paintings have a quiet all their own. They don’t move though they may portray movement. They make no sound though they may contain the chirping of insects or the rumble of a passing airplane. The day is never over although the light may change.”
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Widely recognized in Texas, throughout the United States, and internationally,Richard Thompson has worked as a professional artist for more than four decades. His work has appeared in dozens of solo and group exhibitions across the state, inFort Worth, Dallas, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio. Nationally, he has exhibited in, among other major cities, New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Albuquerque, New Orleans, Santa Fe, and Portland (Oregon); internationally, he has shown work in Australia, Singapore, and South Africa. Some of his most notable exhibitions include New York’s Whitney Biennial in 1975 and 1981 andContemporary Self Portraits from the James Goode Collection at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. in 1994.
Thompson boasts an extensive bibliography and has been featured in such notable publications as Art in America, Artforum, ARTNews, the Paris Review, the Village Voice, Fort Worth’s Star-Telegram, and various exhibition catalogues. He has received a number of grants and fellowships throughout his career, punctuated by an NEA Individual Artist Fellowship and a New York Foundation for the Arts MARK award. Thompson has been invited by several institutions to serve as artist-in-residence, among them the Roswell Museum in New Mexico and Colorado’s noted Anderson Ranch. He has lectured at universities throughout the United States and abroad, and was a featured speaker for the Artist Eye series at the Kimbell Art Museum. He is also a founding board member of the Blue Star Contemporary ArtCenter in San Antonio.
Thompson’s work may be found in many public and private collections, including the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, the San Antonio Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the Museum of South Texas in Corpus Christi, the Albuquerque Museum of Art, and Oregon’s Portland Art Museum. Corporate collections featuring his work include Standard Oil Corporation (Chicago), the Sprint Corporation (Kansas City), Apple Computer (Austin), and the Fidelity Corporation (Fort Worth), among others.
Richard Thompson received his BFA and MA from the University of New Mexico and also studied drawing and printmaking at Oregon State University. He has served as dean and professor of painting at Alfred University in upstate New York, and held a post as professor of art at the University of Texas in Austin. He taught at Houston’s Glassell School of Art, the University of New Mexico, and the University of Albuquerque, in addition to holding visiting artist positions at many other universities across the United States. He has been represented by William Campbell Contemporary Art since 1984.