Glenn Harrington, “Red Shale Pool,” 2013, oil on linen on panel, 16 x 20 in. Courtesy Eleanor Ettinger Gallery
Vivid color contrasts and neatly balanced compositions characterize Glenn Harrington’s landscape and figurative works. Fine examples of each are included in the exhibition of The Figure in American Art, an annual show put on by New York’s Eleanor Ettinger Gallery. In this 16th edition, Harrington is represented by five memorable paintings.
In “Feathered Headdress,” an intimate figurative work, Harrington uses a bold, gestural style, where single brushstrokes remain visible and infuse the picture with energy. The artist has rendered the face in sensitive detail and painted the figure’s adornment and background suggestively. Harrington writes of the painting, “‘Feathered Headdress’ was a playful exercise, an opportunity to act, to be theatrical, to change the countenance and persona with costume. Essentially it's a portrait of an actor. It's a play on the speckled light that makes its way through the blowing feathers and on to the face. All the brushstrokes are intentional and designed as well as the complimentary reds and greens; it's a celebration.”
Glenn Harrington, “Reverie,” 2013, oil on linen on panel, 24 x 30 in. Courtesy Eleanor Ettinger Gallery
The same subject reappears in “Reverie.” Harrington writes of this work, “‘Reverie’ happened when I wasn't ready; I was tired, it was cold and Thanksgiving. The light snow flurries began as Maria, my niece, led me outside. The day’s grayness left few hard shadows, reducing the landscape to vibrant color shapes. I have always been a student of the Secessionist painters, especially their interplay and juxtaposition of laying flat designs alongside sculptural, modeled form. Their seemingly hypnotic patterns prop up the dominant 3D theme, yet nothing in the picture works without these areas of rest; each play their part as in a novel. The fact that I was in a flat mood allowed Maria to be 3D as she led me by the arm into the forest's understory. The result was ‘Reverie,’ and as she lay there in the fall’s dried, sharp grasses, the resting snowflakes caused her to half close her eyes. Her smooth milk-white complexion beautifully contrasted the coarse grass and dark coat; her purple silk scarf spills like a waterfall from her neck and out of the picture.”
Harrington’s natural landscapes show the range of his style: “Red Shale Pool” is dynamically painted, with bold and artificial blues and greens, while “Rocks” is naturalistic, balanced, and stoic. Describing “Red Shale Pool,” Harrington writes, “My high school English teacher emphasized the idea that our individual stories were worth writing about. It's hard to understand that when you're young and seemingly unimportant, yet as we gain worldly experience we realize how special our stories truly are. My fascination with painting the figure in natural settings has never waned. It is the human story on God's stage. Nothing seems more important when we are appreciating it. ‘Red Shale Pool’ is the story of my son at a particular stage in his life and in our relationship. It's a beautiful relationship; it is our story.”
Glenn Harrington, “Rocks,” 2013, oil on linen on panel, 20 x 30 in. Courtesy Eleanor Ettinger Gallery
Harrington continues, “‘Rocks” is essentially a painting about weight and grays, about chaos and order, about the balance of a delicate feminine figure contrasting the heavy, fallen stones. The bark-less tree is a waymark, a bridge leading us to her. It originally had another figure in it. I had painted the male figure in mainly because he was actually there, yet although his presence turned the painting into an interesting design with added color, it detracted from the suggested narrative of the picture, turning it into an ordinary scene. There is something about being alone in the landscape that brings out the truth in us; we are no longer influenced by others, but we are able to lose ourselves in our own experience.”
Glenn Harrington, “Tinicum Field,” 2013, oil on linen on panel, 24 x 20 in. Courtesy Eleanor Ettinger Gallery
With its porcelain subject and the pleasant color contrasts throughout the composition, “Tinicum Field” resembles the work of the impressionist master Renoir. Harrington, though, had a different artist in mind: “One of my favorite paintings throughout all of my life, even as a boy standing with my father in front of it, has been Jules Bastien-Lepage's ‘Joan of Arc.’ There are so many subtle, masterful underpinnings of color, design, drawing, and life in that painting. ‘Tinicum Field’ is a meadow near my home; it's my attempt at creating a modern work influenced by Lepage. I wasn't trying to copy him; it's never possible to be someone else, nor should we try. Yet so many have become themselves by trying, and failing, to be someone else. C.S. Lewis reminds us not to set out to be ‘original,’ but to be 'truthful,’ and while on that path we might become original. A limited, natural color scheme and vibrant brushwork recall the flavor of Lepage.”
Glenn Harrington was born in New York in 1959. He earned his B.F.A. from the Pratt Institute in 1981. Since then Harrington has shown extensively across the United States in solo and group exhibitions. Most recently, he showed in Eleanor Ettinger Gallery’s group exhibition Self-Portraits II (2012), the Oil Painters of America 20th Annual Juried Exhibition at Devin Galleries in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho (2011), and the Scottsdale Salon of Fine Arts at Legacy Gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona (2011). Harrington’s work was also featured in a solo exhibition at Galleria Silecchia in Sarasota, Florida (2011).
Works by Glenn Harrington can be seen in Eleanor Ettinger Gallery’s The Figure in American Art through April 20. For more information, visit www.glennharrington.com and www.eegallery.com.
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