We assume certain things about realist paintings versus abstractions—that realist painters have looked deeply into their subject matter to capture some kind of “essence” or “soul” of whatever it is, while abstractionists are interpreting, adding a layer of the impression the subject made on them.
Brent Godfrey is one of the local masters of abstract painting, so when he mounts a collection of realist works—even if they include abstract stylistic touches—it’s tempting to say he’s conceded a point or removed an expressionistic mask. But in Getting Real, he’s brilliantly blurring the line between the abstract and the representational, occupying the space where the two intersect, sometimes uneasily. Like the subtly shifting images of a memory, the technique allows Godfrey to allude to a whole network of associations—personal, social and even wider. And, it serves to make the viewer look at these works all the more intently.
Brent Godfrey’s Getting Real: Visual Expressions of Personal Perception @ Kimball Art Center, 638 Park Ave., Park City, 435-649-8882, through Sept. 26, weekdays 10 a.m.-5 p.m., weekends 12-5 p.m., free. KimballArtCenter.org