Sunday, September 8, 2019

David Ligare, Artist

If you have been reading my missives, you must know by now, we live in an arts town, with possibly more art per capita than anywhere else in the world.  We cannot do everything, so we do not attend openings randomly.  But when we noted an opening of one Native American Artist who is world famous, Fritz Scholder, together with another whose work we recognized and liked, David Ligare, we decided to go.  The show which is up until October 12 is at the LewAllen Gallery in Santa Fe.

I recognized David Ligare’s work but could not place it.  I thought I had seen it at a gallery my cousin worked at in London.  Wanting to check that out with Ligare who attended the opening, I introduced myself saying, “You don’t know me” at which point he interrupted and said, “But yes I do”.  I started to argue with him but before I could, he said, yes Gerald Stiebel, Stiebel Modern and then mentioned my wife’s name, Penelope.  How embarrassing! He had exhibited at my gallery, or rather its contemporary art subsidiary which I was only able to keep going for 5 years within Rosenberg & Stiebel’s walls.  Our gallery manager for this section, at the time, was Deven Golden who scouted and picked out the artists and brought them to the Stiebels for consideration, and for the most part, we were on the same wavelength.

David Ligare is a California-based artist, born in 1945 in Oak Park, Illinois.,who  received his formal arts training at the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles. His work can be found in many museums in this country and abroad, to name a few, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, The Uffizi, Florence and the Thyssen Collection in Madrid!

Ligare’s paintings could be seen as a quest for a classical  ideal of visual perfection. He draws his inspiration from the philosophers of old like Plato, Aristotle and the more recent, Nietzsche.  His figural subjects also reference Greek mythology as his 2016 monumental painting which is the PR image for the exhibition.  This is what the artist writes about this piece, “The Falling Man (Icarus) was inspired by my thinking about the dangers of our dependence on modern technology.  In the Greek myth of Icarus, the young man is given wings made of wax and feathers in order to escape from the island of Crete where he has been held captive.  He was told not to fly too high because the sun would melt the wax, and he would fall.  He did not heed the advice and fell into the sea.”  

Despite this cautionary tale and the artist’s claim to be a luddite he does carry a smart phone on which to do his email.  He is a wiz with his thumbs! There is no telling what inspires us but what is nice about art you cannot be told how to enjoy a painting and if you wish to think of this as someone who just jumped off the high diving board throwing his clothes off, no one can stop you!

I love this 2018 cloud study probably because in this part of the world it is all about the clouds.  Not a day goes by that we don’t comment on their color, formation or just breathtaking beauty.  David writes, “Landscape with a Cloud suggests ephemerality and evaporative, ever-changing nature of culture.”  We spotted him outside the gallery photographing our clouds.

David reminded me that one of the paintings in the LewAllen show was also in the Stiebel Modern exhibition.  It is the painting on the left.  David writes “It’s called Hercules Protecting the Balance Between Pleasure and Virtue.  This image is from the retrospective that the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento did in 2015 and it traveled to four other museums.”  When your work has received critical acclaim, flaunt it!  That is called marketing and every artist has to learn to do that and then find a reputable gallery to promote their work.

As usual I will end with a personal favorite, Rock & Shell, 2016. My wife finds “its clear light and fragile balance of opposing objects, breath-taking”.  David wrote, “Fine to use this picture but it is one of the rare still life’s that doesn’t adhere to my usual project of specific meanings.”  At first, I thought, in that case, maybe I should not use the image.  Then I realized that it helps make a point that I have tried to make often.  In art it is up to the viewer to make up their own mind and not just what the curator or artist want us to think.  Then if the work of art speaks to one, then it is interesting to learn what the artist, the curator and the critic have to say.  But, here is the hard part, these other thoughts should not interfere with your feelings about the work of art!

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