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Visual Arts: Lynn Boggess Tactile Realism En-Plein-Air

This June, stop in Cooper Gallery Fine Art in downtown Lewisburg to see New Work by Lynn Boggess. The gallery represents regional and international artists working in a number of mediums and Boggess’ painting style is Tactile Realism en-plein-air. His passion is landscapes in a hybridized style in where he paints from nature, in the field, as opposed to working in the studio from photographs, which is how most contemporary landscape artists paint. His plein air paintings have been featured in collections and galleries around the world since he first put trowel to canvas in 2001. He was born and raised in West Virginia, and continues to live in the south-central part of the state.

“Landscape painting is all about composition. My styles take two radical schools of thought and tried to marry them. I started off utilizing a Gerhard Richter-type technique, which was a lot of smear painting. But I also try to match what I paint to what I see, so I work within the realistic tradition, as well” – Lynn Boggess

Cooper Gallery Fine Art owner, Marilyn Cooper, and Boggess share a long history that has lasted 18 successful years. Boggess arrived to the gallery in 2001 with four small landscape oil paintings. At that time, he did not have a private retail gallery and was seeking representation for his work. He was teaching at Fairmont State University and had been developing a technique using different sizes of trowles to apply oil paint to canvas. Marilyn says, “I took one look at the paintings and asked if I could represent him. As soon as we agreed to work together, I immediately placed the paintings in my front window. Needless to say, they sold like hot cakes within a week’s time.” She goes onto say that she feels privileged to play a small part in Boggess’ journey and that it has been a great partnership throughout the years.

Boggess’ paintings can be appreciated on many levels. To the casual viewer, there is a fascination with the fact that the work appears photographic at fifteen feet away, while at two feet it is a complex arrangement of large strokes of the trowel. To those who have an appreciation for the natural world, there is a purity in the subject, which denies all references to human interference. Nearly all of his work is created on location and Boggess says, “Everywhere you turn, there’s a painting. West Virginia is a rural state. The population is concentrated in only a few areas, and there’s a lot of wide-open wilderness. For someone with transcendence on his mind, it’s a perfect place. It’s raw and accessible, inviting you to be outdoors. The state has a character about it, a kind of terrible beauty.”

Art historians appreciate his references to Impressionism, nineteenth-century realism, and twentieth-century abstract expressionism. Contemporary theorists enjoy the relevance of the work as it relates to recent discussions about the nature of reality and place, as well as the tension between surface and illusion. Natives of Appalachia experience a strong jolt of memory. Nearly everyone who has walked on a hillside or stood in a wooded grove can hear, smell, and feel the place where the artist stood.

In addition to Boggess’ creative and complex style, many of his canvases are so large that he has to work from a modified scaffold he builds for each painting. He uses 5 different sizes of cement trowel as his brush.  He goes out to the backcountry to a spot that moves him, sets up his easel, then camps at the site for several days until his painting is finished. Marilyn says, “Lynn’s work is a reflection of his personality. He captures the many moods of nature, takes you for a quiet walk in the woods, makes you feel the energy of a mountain stream rolling over rocks in it journey to the lowlands. He is definitely in tune with his surroundings. He has the intense passion, a sensitive eye and personal discipline to immerse himself in his paintings.”

Boggess’ paintings embody uniqueness, originality, expressiveness, and mastery of technique. Reflecting on the artists’ ability to reinvent a landscape painting, Clint Mansell, Director of Principle Gallery, writes, “Oftentimes, Boggess’ work elicits a feeling of nostalgia for a tranquil moment experienced in a beautiful place, something worth remembering and reliving. His paintings create an interesting dynamic of movement in their application and stillness in their final presentation. The closer you physically get to Lynn’s oils, the more they tend to abstract, to pull apart. As you step away, all of the pieces come together like a puzzle, everything fits perfectly in a well-orchestrated whole and you see the scene as he felt it the day he trekked into the woods to capture it.”

This month, check out Lynn Boggess New Works at Cooper Gallery Fine Art. They are beautiful and exclusive. Also, on first Friday, July 5, make plans to see George Snyder’s New Works with a Reception from 5-8pm; and on first Friday, August 2nd Bruce Macdonald will present New Works with a Reception, 5-8pm. The gallery is located at 1067 Washington Street, East, across from Brick House Antiques. For more information, visit coopergallery.com, call 304-661-1752 or email getart@coopergallery.com. 

– HashtagWV #114. June 2019.

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