Recent Paintings by David Kroll and Ron Porter
October 20 - November 24, 2012
Cumberland Gallery is pleased to present recent paintings by David Kroll and Ron Porter, on view October 20-November 24, 2012. This is David Kroll’s sixth solo exhibition at Cumberland Gallery and Ron Porter’s seventh.
Nationally lauded artist, David Kroll (Seattle, WA), is deeply concerned with the ever-widening rift between human civilization and nature. “I think about the natural world not as an expendable resource, but as a past home, once abandoned and forgotten, now the subject of our longing and our dreams,” Kroll writes. Blending the refinement and mood of old-master works, the romanticism of the Hudson River School, and the vanitas of Dutch still lifes, Kroll depicts jewel-toned songbirds, koi fish, or butterflies mingling with delicate, ornamental vases and dishes against sweeping, panoramic landscapes. Such scenes are engrossing not only because of their exquisite beauty, but also because of their symbolic tension and mournful air. The palette is often soft and muted, and the light is diffused like that of an overcast day. The presence of humans is merely implied, symbolized by easily broken inanimate vessels. Birds appear lost or estranged from their own egg-filled nests, and koi swirl in indefinite blackness. Each painting reveals more paradoxes than resolutions, inviting the viewer to contemplate how disconnected we are from nature, how severely we’ve disrupted its order, and how its ultimate extinction subsumes our own. However, at the same time Kroll’s paintings lament the rift between humans and nature, they bridge it, offering viewers, as Kroll affirms, “…places to visit for solace and sanctuary.” Indeed, we are reminded of the necessity of the natural world and are urged to reclaim it.
Kroll received his BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and his MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His works are included in many private and public collections, including American Airlines (Chicago, IL), Microsoft (Redmond,WA), and the Phillip Morris Management Corporation (New York, NY). Kroll is also a past recipient of a NEA Regional Visual Arts Award and an Artist Fellowship from the Illinois Art Council.
Ron Porter (Nashville, TN) recently retired from Vanderbilt University where he was a Professor of Art for 14 years. His oil paintings are surrealist in nature, often depicting dramatic, exquisitely rendered landscapes interposed with mysterious still lifes or tractor trailer trucks indecipherably blended into the natural scenery. Like Kroll, Porter explores ironies and paradoxes, emphasizing the dynamic tensions integral to existence, such as those between clarity and ambiguity, spontaneity and planning, truth and illusion. Intriguingly, these tensions are as much a part of life as they are the creative process, which is why it is crucial, Porter believes, to keep the possibilities open as he paints because, after all, to cavort with mystery is perhaps the underlying impetus for creative expression. Technically proficient, intelligent, and with a good sense of humor, Porter’s work stirs thought-provoking questions about life and the enigmatic yet precious relationship we have with our surroundings. “When the ordinary and often banal connects with the ambiguous, I find the commonplace elevated,” he writes. “It’s a way of visualizing my mind’s eye, and in a larger sense, reveals a kind of underlying truth about human nature that lives just beyond the imagery.”
Porter received his MFA from Ohio University (Athens, OH). His works are included in many private and public collections, including the Tennessee State Museum (Nashville), Opryland Hotel (Nashville), First Bank of Tennessee (Nashville), the Vanderbilt University Medical Library (Nashville), and the Yellow Freight System (Overland Park, KS).