Although Richard Andres had one-man exhibitions while he was alive, none of them were on the scale or included the breadth of work as the one opening next week (June 9) at WOLFS Gallery (23645 Mercantile Rd., Beachwood) with selected pieces from 1950-1975.
Michael Wolf, director of the gallery, has long had a relationship with the surviving members of the estate of Adres, who passed away in 2013 and left multitudes of never-before-seen works behind in the Hudson home he designed himself.
Wolf describes the discovery of the trove of masterful abstraction expressionist works” as “a rare and wondrous event,” and comments that it evokes “the heady times of the mid-century American art world.”
Andres spent many days at the Cleveland Museum of Art immersing himself in the works of Van Gogh and Matisse. He was prolific and cutting edge, but also preferred to stay out of the limelight and was never aggressive about selling his work.
As for the philosophy of his work, Andres in 1989 wrote: “Painting is an occupation filled with emotions, excitement, anxiety, worry, frustration, etc. Painting is a challenge, a desire to create new visual image (something to look at), with the hope that the image will provide a lasting response from the viewer, everything must play its proper role (order, form). I have always tried to produce the best work I am capable of-results have exceeded expectations, but there is always the feeling that there is not quite enough—This (writing) is futile—it does nothing to explain painting.”
According to art critic Helen Borsick, “Technically his paintings are abstractions, but that is only part of the story. Andres’ complex style of composition – strong in design and drawing – involves compartmentalizing the canvas with favorite signs, figurative allusions and symbols. Any degree of familiarity with his canvases develops recognition of his painting language and repeated forms as well as of the endless nuances of color tints and overpaint and underpainting methods.”
In Andres’ 1976 piece "Interior," which is included in the exhibition, two figures, a man and a woman, appear in the frame abstracted nearly beyond recognition and who represent Andres and his wife. A sparse landscape looms behind them outside a window. The female figure has her head turned away from the male, head pitched slightly towards the ground expressing resignation and appearing morose. The male figure’s arm reaches out of frame for an unknown object of his desire, or perhaps it represents Andres himself painting. The male figure has no facial features, perhaps conveying a longing for self-actualization. This composition has been repeated in several of his works over the years and clearly draws from cubism, the avant-garde art movement exhibited in late works of Paul Cézanne, followed by works by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque.
When asked to describe his art, Andres struggled. “It’s hard to describe art. Art is something that’s there, to look at. So words are very difficult. Essentially, the closest I can come is to say I’m a 1950s painter. The ‘50s was sort of an attitude toward art. It was going to be big. It was going to be strong. This great big group of painters had this attitude toward painting and it’s hard to pin it down because each painter was different. It really is a style that’s hard to define but the term ‘abstract expressionism’ is often used.”
The exhibition spotlighting the late Andres’ work will be open Thursday, June 9th, 5-8 p.m. and will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalog with over 50 works, including an essay by Dr. Henry Adams. It will run through August 20th. The gallery is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
A short video on Andres and the exhibition is below.
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