“Imaginary Falls in Charcoal, Ink and Oil,” a solo exhibition by Joseph Goldyne, is on view through Dec. 26 at Sullivan Goss: An American Gallery, 11 E. Anapamu St., Santa Barbara.
“Mr. Goldyne is a well-regarded and widely-collected print maker, but these imaginary waterfalls are all unique works executed with neither press nor plate,” said Jeremy Tessmer, gallery curator and director. “Instead, the plurality of works in the exhibition represent the artist’s first efforts in charcoal presented in context with three paintings in oil and india ink.”
The artist himself cites the Morgan Library’s 2019 exhibition of portraits in charcoal by John Singer Sargent, who turned away from oil painting toward charcoal as the medium of choice for his highly-coveted portraits in 1907 when Sargent was 51 years old.
Mr. Goldyne was seduced by the medium’s potential in the works on display.
He writes: “There, in 50 portraits of friends and talents, is evidence of what a great gift can make of light and shadow; for aside from having an uncanny sensitivity to just where a line should land and what a line should describe, Sargent summoned what I call graphic ‘weather’ to help him capture his subjects.
“It was this ’weather’ in the form of darks and lights, not mere shading or modeling, but often a churning brew of strokes and erasures (he used little knotted bits of bread as erasers) to bring his heads into brilliant identity.”
This new suite of drawings covers a wide array of compositional approaches to Mr. Goldyne’s ongoing exploration of waterfalls. Over the artist’s 50-year career, he has invested himself in a diverse mixture of themes and images but almost always with a focus on the surface effects of his chosen media and a free-wheeling engagement with the art of the past. For at least the past 14 years, however, he has been absorbed by his imaginary waterfalls.
“In one work, chiaroscuro effects power a shower of white light inside a dimly-lit cavern of the artist’s imagination. Other works use faint shading to suggest the vapors, sprays and mists of a landscape carved by a powerful waterfall. Still others tiptoe into abstraction,” said Mr. Tessmer.
“All are imagined. Notes the artist, ‘I can assure you that I shall never need to see a waterfall to draw one.’ ”
To contextualize these new works on paper, a pair of tall and slender paintings measuring six feet by 18 inches bookend the show. With drawing and watercolor-like effects achieved by india ink colored with oil washes on the fine weave of a Belgian portrait linen, these new paintings will probably be more familiar to regular watchers of the gallery’s program.
“These larger works are inspired by both Japanese scroll paintings and the ‘zip’ abstractions of Barnett Newman,” Mr. Tessmer said. “ hese heroically scaled falls use their strong verticality to convey the sense of immensity and power that Edmund Burke defined as ‘sublime’ in his 1757 treatise ‘A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful.’ ”
Mr. Goldyne earned his bachelor’s degree in art history from UC Berkeley before completing masters’ degrees at UC San Francisco and Harvard University. He has devoted himself to the art world since his 20s, painting exhibitions for galleries such as Braunstein Quay and John Berggruen and advising the Fine Arts Museums Collections Committee for more than 30 years.
His work is held in the permanent collections of institutions like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Minneapolis Institute of Fine Art, Whitney Museum of American Art and Philadelphia Museum of Art, among many others. A catalog raisonné of his print works was published by the Corcoran Museum in 2004 and another catalog raisonné of artist books, portfolios and calligraphic sheets was published by Stanford University Press in 2015.
Mr. Goldyne’s exhibition is shown in tandem with a complimentary solo exhibition for Natalie Arnoldi.
“Both artists have created bodies of work that blur aesthetic categories while remaining conscientiously engaged with the romantic landscape tradition in American art,” said Mr. Tessmer.