Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Bennett Vadnais: New York

Bennett Vadnais, Robertas, 2013, acrylic on panel, 12 1/4 x 17 1/2 inches
If you have not heard the name Bennett Vadnais I recommend you get familiar with it fast, because this young painter's work is definitely worth noticing.  Vadnais's work is currently on view at the National Arts Club of New York City, and it offers a small collection with a big punch.  
 Bennett Vadnais, West Window 2, 2010, oil on panel, 9 x 12 inches
Vadnais uses New York as the inspiration of his current work, exploring the city and the neighborhoods he's most familiar with. Most of the paintings have the same view in common, but each one changes as he explores the changing light reflecting off buildings and rooftops. Each time of day, or climate change offers a a new way of seeing the same buildings, sometimes light reveals more of what's in the background, and other times emphasis is in the foreground.  
 Bennett Vadnais, West Window 3 - Noon, 2010, acrylic on board, 9 x 12 inches 
Vadnais works most of his composition in plein air, making detailed drawings and color studies of his subjects before reproducing them in larger scale paintings in his studio.
 Bennett Vadnais, Morgan Ave., Cement Plant, 2012, acrylic on canvas, 13 x 21 inches
The National Arts Club states "Vadnais takes, as his point of departure, the golden age of 17th century Dutch landscape painting and applies that vivid and luminous paint handling to the depiction of gritty street scenes and once-idylic landscapes littered with post-industrial detritus." It never occured to me that Vadnais's work can be so deeply rooted to Dutch paintings, but it makes sense, perhaps this is why I'm drawn to them so much.
 Bennett Vadnais, Gutted Building Study, 2013, graphite and acrylic on panel, 15 x 20 inches 
Being aware of the connection to 17th century Dutch paintings, the study above immediately made me think of Vermeer's The Little Street, a great example of genre painting and a faithful record of city living during the artist's life time.  Just like Vermeer, Vadnais elevates simple, anonymous brick buildings into a realm of pure beauty and precise moments of magic.  
 Bennett Vadnais, Ward Island Bridge, 2011, acrylic on panel, 10 x 16 inches 

 Bennet Vadnais, The Gutted Building #2, 2013, acrylic on canvas, 32 x 40 inches 

 Bennett Vadnais, West Window 1 - Overcast, 2010, acrylic on board, 9 x 12 inches 

 Bennet Vadnais, Upper West Side, 2013, acrylic on panel, 19 x 29 inches 
If inspiration is what you seek and you happen to be in the city then this show is a must see. You will not be disappointed. Bennett Vadnais: New York runs from January 6 - February 1 at the National Arts Club, located at 15 Gramercy Park South, New York, NY 10003.
Bennet Vadnais, Upper West Side (Sketch), 2013, acrylic on panel, 6 1/2 x 10 inches 

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