HENRY FINKELSTEIN Congress Street Gallery
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Henry Finkelstein has painted on Great Cranberry Island, Maine, his entire life and on Gotts, an even more sparsely populated Maine Island, all of his married life. As a boy growing up in New York his painting companions were the Abstract Expressionists...friends of his parents, the artists, Louis Finkelstein and Gretna Campbell.
His first exhibit at Fitzpatrick include a dozen medium and large-scale paintings done in his signature impressionistic, loose brush work style, which has been described by arts writers as lyric and abstract leaning.
Finkelstein has exhibited widely in the United States and also internationally. He is a former Fulbright fellow and also was awarded a residency grant that enabled him to paint at the Chateau de Rochfeort en Terre in Brittany. He paints part of the year in France. A graduate of Cooper Union, New York, Finkelstein received his MA from Yale School of Art. He teaches at the National Academy of Design, New York, and at the Art Students League, New York.
This show is comprised of recent paintings from Cranberry Island, Maine, where I have spent summers my whole life, and Gotts Island, which was introduced to me through my wife Pamela. She too has summered there since she was born. No two islands in Maine are alike, and these are no exception. Although both are situated within a mile of Mt. Desert, (in different directions), Cranberry and Gotts have very different communities, history, and even terrain. They have different meanings in my own life too, due to how I have come to know them. What is consistent, I hope, is the vision expressed in my paintings.
I'm sure that the work suggests a narrative of my past in ways that I'm not even aware of, but I also continue to discover new things in these places as I paint them. Color and light have everything to do with this. I often paint at the end of the day when the light is fading, and I tend to prefer gray days to sunny ones. When I do paint in the sun I am still seeking to convey the light coming from within things rather than the light on things. I also enjoy the challenge of painting in the fog. I like what Constable said, that he wanted "to paint the moisture in the air." In this way I differ from Edward Hopper's and Fairfield Porter's crisp depictions of Maine light, both of them, of course admirable artists, each in their own way.
The very first colors I put on a canvas set a key for the whole thing. There is no single truth to nature; there is just the consistency within an individual's observation of it. The nature provides a grounding that holds my gestures together. I wish I could work the way Bonnard did, from drawings and from memory, but as yet I don't have the talent. He uses color metaphorically, and I wouldn't mind if someone sensed that from my paintings too. When my colors seem right they have a sound for me, and an emotion that makes them feel convincing. I cannot paint a picture of a space that I know too well from someone else's work. I can't try to be original either. I can only paint what feels true to me.