Gathering in a public square is a way of life all over the world, and for me there’s something compelling about seeing groups of people interacting from an aerial perspective. I started painting crowds several years ago when, after a residency at the American Academy in Rome, I set my video camera in a hotel window above the Pantheon and recorded people below, interacting at all hours of the day and night. I’ve attempted in this suite of paintings to create an all-over, democratic area of engagement where the figures and the space form a kind of unified visual field. Even before I began painting the large groups of human figures, I used to paint crowds of animals. (The models were toy beasts set up in migrating groups on my studio floor — virtual savannahs seen from above!) The influence for this series of paintings was a trip with my family to France when I visited the grotto of Peche Merle where I saw stunning primitive wall murals. As it happens, all these sorts of images overlap in my studio practice, worked on simultaneously — paintings of family, human crowds, and the animal tableaux. For me they are all part of the ceaseless striving to achieve the right light, the right color, and the implied narrative. These paintings constitute the long-term repertoire of subjects I love to paint: human figures in natural and urban spaces, my daughters and my wife, and groupings of animals. Light and color unify these subjects for me, and light has come to take on mythic importance in my work. The act of painting is really a way to draw with color. No matter how complicated the idea or powerful the unconscious obsession behind the work, all of it is ultimately secondary to the pursuit of the right color in the right space — or as Boston painter George Nick says, painting is always a matter of “chasing color.”
—Grant Drumheller, June 2015
I have known and followed Grant Drumheller’s work since the late 1970’s and have always felt that he is a “painter’s painter” — an artist of the highest integrity. He is a gifted, fearless explorer of the expressive possibilities unique to painting and, in particular, the emotive power of color. In previous years, Drumheller’s imagery has bordered on the fantastical and mythical — but it was always grounded in felt and seen reality. Between Worlds shows the artist’s penchant for revealing mystery in the everyday, juxtaposing nature and the human presence in telling ways. Grant Drumheller’s sure hand and insightful eye are in evidence everywhere in this exhibition — and we are honored to have an overview exhibit of this important painter’s work.