Willmar Art Gallery
New Exhibit opening January 6 at Ridgewater College, Willmar campus.
Rochester Artist Simon Huelsbeck presents at Ridgewater College his exhibit titled Swimmers”. The gallery becomes alive with a multitude of 4 foot by 4-foot portraits arranged in a grid and painted in an expressive yet realistic fashion. Huelsbeck presents a level of theatricality in his paintings created with the method Rembrandt and Caravaggio made famous: using “tenebrism”, which means “night effects”, where the subject is almost spotlight and the background fades to darkness. The result is a foregrounding of Huelsbeck’s wonderful mastery of saturated color: hot pinks, blues, and teals. Simon will be visiting the Willmar campus for a gallery talk at 1:30 pm. Thursday, February 6, 2020.
The Ridgewater Fine art gallery is located near the Theatre in the Fine Art Building of the Willmar Campus. Open 8 am to 5 pm, Monday-Friday. Parking is available for visitors nearby.
For more information contact Gallery Curator Andrew Nordin at Andrew.email@example.com.
Each of these paintings begins as an observational figurative painting. Working with the models one-on-one on a large scale felt eventful, even a bit scary. There is an upfront investment in each painting but with little planning so that at first much relied on quick intuitive decisions.
The decisions though were limited at this point to a relatively small set of variables- experimenting with poses, responding to light, struggling with proportion, etc.
The work continued with reference images in the studio. This was an opportunity to work and rework the nuances of the form. This was a significantly longer portion of time as I moved from one to another and back again. Several months later, at the end of this stage, the figures were in some cases rather satisfying and in others not as much but as a whole, I was left wanting and without any clear way forward. To remedy this I laid palettes of paint and brushes before the paintings and invited my kids, at the time 6 and 9 years old, to do what they will. The results were not at all precious or stiff. This freed me up to respond to a new set of variables.
In a similar manner, I continued to find ways to interrupt the paintings. Once I felt I had hit a roadblock with one I would move to another. Eventually, I would discover an interesting new route with one painting be it with a new tool or process or material, I would then attempt to introduce it to the others. This way of working has allowed this body of work to be, at the time of writing this, without an end, for better, or perhaps just as likely, for worse.
Ostensibly all the works are swimmers. This theme sets a loose parameter allowing for not only a range of formal elements and processes but also narrative suggestions. I spent a great deal of my formative life at the beach or at pools as I was raised by my midwestern parents in condominiums on Miami Beach in the ’80s and early ’90s. While I have at this point spent the majority of my life in Minnesota, allowing for the influence of memory has also helped to keep the work open-ended.
Simon Huelsbeck received his BFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 1997. He received his MFA from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art in 2002. Since receiving his MFA, Huelsbeck has been featured in galleries and institutions in Philadelphia, Chicago, Rochester, Minneapolis, and New York