Abstracted Calligraphies

Loretta Howard Gallery is pleased to present a selection of important paintings by Cleve Gray from the 1970’s. Wrought in deeply saturated fields of color and marked with calligraphic brushwork, the paintings on display exemplify the artist’s mature style. They highlight the artist’s lifelong affinity for Japanese and Chinese art and philosophy. His familiarity with Asian cultures began at Princeton University where he studied Far Eastern Art under George Rowley and wrote his thesis on the landscape painting of the Yuan dynasty. The resulting paintings illustrate a synthesis of western and eastern art historical conventions as Gray infused the radical sensibilities of Abstract Expressionism with Zen quietude. Also on view are a selection of hanging scrolls collected by the artist during his visits to China and Japan. These scrolls, which highlight a meditative approach, also contain an intensity and immediacy of action that Gray sought in his own work.

In an essay written in the accompanying catalog, Luke Gray explains his father’s views on Abstract Expressionism:

As he saw it, their work, unlike that of the Chinese tradition, posited a space of overly pronounced individuality, where, instead of the artist disappearing into the landscape, the landscape disappeared into the artist. He came to reconcile these early views in forging the marriage of traditions so evident in this exhibition's paintings. To facilitate entry into the “head space” required for this work, he developed a technique of releasing a scream at the moment the gesture was expelled, because, in his words, “I could not allow myself to continue to be dominated by Western civilization”

Conjunction 199
Conjunction #199
1976
Acrylic on canvas
60 x 60 inches

Conjunction 203
Conjunction #203
1975
Acrylic on canvas
38 x 36 inches

Fifth Triptych
Conjugation Fifth Triptych
1975
Acrylic on canvas
34 x 102 inches

Quietude
Quietude #2
1977
Acrylic on canvas
80 x 45 inches

The Queen's Gesture
The Queen's Gesture
2001
Acrylic on canvas
70 x 50 inches

Conjunction 98
Conjunction #98
1976
Acrylic on canvas
30 x 32 inches

Conjugation 130
Conjugation #130
1975
Acrylic on canvas
35 x 35 inches

Conjugation #3
Conjugation #3
1975
Acrylic on canvas
40 x 36 inches

Conjugation 27
Conjugation #27
1975
Acrylic on canvas
38 x 36 inches

Nantucket Bronze
Nantucket Bronze
ca. 1976 - 1979
Acrylic on canvas
25 x 12 inches

Each Other
Each Other
1979
Acrylic on canvas
107 x 69 inches

“I have been in love with painting ever since I became conscious of it at the age of six. I drew some pictures I thought fairly good when I was fifty, but really nothing I did before the age of seventy was of any value at all. At seventy-three I have at last caught every aspect of nature – birds, fish, animals, insects, trees, grasses, all. When I am eighty I shall have developed still further, and I will really master the secrets of art at ninety. When I reach a hundred my work will be truly sublime, and my final work will be attained around the age of one hundred and ten, when every line and dot I draw will be imbued with life.” - This quote by Hokusai hung on the wall of Cleve Gray's studio.