Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Philip Koch

I am doing something a little different tonight. I have shown a lot of historic art and lots of my own art, but tonight I am showing the art of one of the readers of this blog,Philip Koch. I met Philip several years ago when we were both on a panel discussion at the Cape Cod Museum of art. I don't think we were on the same panel, there were several, however we all showed some paintings there, and I was impressed with his.

All of the art by the members of the panel was impressive, there were some well known painters there. Philips painting was different from the things to which I usually find myself drawn. I will take the risk of speaking about another painters art just a little. I seldom do that with a living artist, usually I am discussing the works of an artist long dead. It brings a whole different level of caution as the artist is out there to rebut what I say. I can tell you what I think looking at it, but only that.

Philip Koch is a professor at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. He started out doing abstract painting but a love for the 19th century American painters, and Edward Hopper, led him into a contemporary style that is based on those historic influences.I think that's what I like about these, I have based what I do on these historic models and I see him doing the same thing. He has looked at the same art I have and sunk his roots deep into it. Although our paintings are quite different I think our aims are similar. I am reluctant to put a label on these paintings, are they semi-abstract or demi-expressionist, or new realist? I don't know and I guess labels don't really matter much.

Philip works outside in vine charcoal a lot. Here is a charcoal drawing below.

He is inventing his heightened color and doing a lot of arranging the landscape so it makes sense for him to do charcoals outside. This drawing was done near Edward Hoppers old studio on Cape Cod, where he has been invited to stay and work for twelve summers since 1983.

The painting above has a number of design ideas in it, including some that I have written about.
There are "stacked values" for instance, see how that foreground shore and tree is light against the dark or the island behind it? Many lesser painters would have marched everything across the painting like a frieze, with all the elements parallel to the picture plane. In this painting the lines of the foreground and the ripples in the water both recede obliquely into the picture taking the viewer into the middle ground. The whole arrangement is reminiscent of Hudson River school painting with its broad sky and still, crystalline feeling. He has studied that art , but he has brought to it a contemporary sensibility .

Philip Koch has had his work in 11 solo exhibitions in American art museums including the Butler Institute of American Art (OH), the Saginaw Art Museum (MI), and the Swope Art Museum (IN). In 2008 the University of Maryland University College published a 92 page scholarly catalogue on his work from the last decade that focuses on his art of the New England coast. The catalogue accompanies a national traveling exhibition running through 2011. Koch's paintings are in the Permanent Collections of twelve American art museums.

Philip has a blog that he has been writing and you can find it here. Instead of letting me tell you about HIS paintings, you can go to his blog and learn about them from the artist himself.

Here he is, with the mountains of Acadia National Park behind him. The recent entries in his blog have been about painting there and he shows some of the things he made . I am pleased to have artists like Philip reading MY blog, and I see that as an encouragement and a great compliment.


Gregory Becker said...

I have seen his work before and one thing that I really like about him is his ability to get the light to read as truth. You walk away thinking the movement of that color in the light to that color in the shadow is true.
The light has a consistent source, intensity and effect throughout.
That always gets the wheels turning for me.

Unknown said...

I don't know, Phillip.. this is alot of pressure Stape has put on you.. the only living artist to be featured here. Please don't feel you need to "buy the farm" in order to join the ranks of the other, late greats. However, if you do, we can always refer to previous post on crating, just tell us where to ship you.
On a serious note, the work is excellent, and has both an excitement and an ethereal quality that is very engaging. Like Gregory said, even with the somewhat intuitive color, the light is true and the effect is very emotive for me. I especially like the second one posted here.
Thanks for sharing these, Stape. Now buy the poor man a beer.

willek said...

I like the way philip has respect for basic principals of portraying reality. The graded skies, light washing over all... use of drawing, perspective, compliments, juxtaposition, and values and using the truth of reality as a starting point. They look big. Are they?

Stapleton Kearns said...

He does have good light, doesn't he?

Stapleton Kearns said...


I intend to do a few other "artists I know" posts, but I want to spread them out so they are interspersed with the other content. They are hard to do. I can say anything I want about a dead artist. Writing about a living one is harder.

Stapleton Kearns said...

yes some of them are quite large. If you go over to his blog you can see a bunch of them and their dimensions.

Philip Koch said...

Thank you folks for the most kind comments. Deb your remark about maybe needing to refer to Stape's previous post on crating had my wife and I laughing on the floor,