Reviving a glass painting technique popularized in the 15th century, artist Gregory Grenon opens a solo exhibition at Traver Gallery in Seattle tomorrow, June 28th, with his reverse paintings on glass within found and embellished wooden frames. The exhibition “Outside of Society” features portraits of women in various states of agitation and unrest, and carry with them such an immediacy that Traver Gallery refers to them as “snapshots” in their exhibition announcement.
Reverse glass painting is exactly what it sounds like, and while Grenon’s work conveys a pulsing vitality, the effect is even more noteworthy considering how much careful planning is involved in painting backwards. Details such as the folds of a dress or a furrowed brow are painted first because the portraits are to be viewed through the opposite side of the glass. Former GLASS Quarterly contributor Matthew Kangas dissected Grenon’s irreverent use of Hinterglasmelerei in the Summer 2006 edition of GLASS (#103). Invented by the Bavarians of the 16th century, this technique served religious subject matter well, the light from outside rendered figures radiant and powerful. Rather than focus on saints, devotion, and historic cultural figures, Grenon’s interest in “Outside of Society” are imagined, yet hopelessly normal faces with features that betray a uniquely American melancholy.
Grenon has been a featured artist at the Traver Gallery since 1983, and his last show, part of a trio exhibition in 2010, brings to mind Picasso’s “Saltimbanques” series. His new collection is reminiscent of Gustav Klimt in its vibrancy, layers and most notably his reverence of the female. In Kangas’ article, he detailed many slights from critics against Grenon’s depiction of women where they are described as, “revenge fantasies against women,” and “unremitting hostility.” If the life captured in his work does not convince you he holds women in esteem rather than contempt, then surely his own description of his work will. Part of his artistic statement reads, “Women have a beauty and a power that men do not have and that is what I show in my work.”
—Katharine MoralesIF YOU GO:
“Outside of Society”
June 28, 2012 – July 29, 2012
Artist Reception: Thursday, Jun 28, 5 – 8 pm
110 Union St #200
Seattle, WA 98101
t: (206) 587 – 6501