Visions That The Plants Gave Us

Rick Harlow

Rick Harlow's monumental abstractions are reflections of the physical and philosophical environment of the Colombian Amazon where he has lived intermittently for a number of years. He first worked in that environment as a volunteer on trips to Honduras and later to Borneo and Colombia for Earthwatch. Currently he is the project coordinator for YAPP (Yaigoje-Apaporis Papermaking Project), which enables the Macuna people of the Colombian Amazon to raise their level of income by exploiting renewable natural resources in the making of paper. This and assignments such as the photographing of orangutans in the wild has given him an intimate knowledge, empathy, and informed relationship with that which he paints.

This series of paintings, based on these experiences, expands on Harlow's exquisite sense of color, pattern, and dramatic tonal contrasts. These works show "his propensity for abstractly rendered landscape. Instead of focusing on specific places or events, these works delve into an abstract interpretation of the spiritual meanings inherent in these people's endangered beliefs and rituals." (Stapen, Boston Globe, November 21, 1991)

These nearly abstract compositions, bursting with light, color, and form, reveal Harlow's connection to life in the dense rain forest of Colombia. The great versatility in his use of pain is evident in all his work "blurry washes, cracked-earth surfaces, palette-knife puttyings, brush loading, dragging and feathering, finger painting." (Carlock, Lincoln Journal, March 1987) Measuring nine and ten feet across or high, his canvases resemble vast worlds in themselves but none identical. It is through this synthesis of paint and natural forms that the works become a visual and spiritual line between the natural and man-made worlds.

-- Clark Gallery,
Lincoln, Mass.

In the exhibition:

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