Still Point of the Turning World
February 14 - March 14, 2004
At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshness; / Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is, / But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call it fixity, / Where past and future are gathered. –T.S. Eliot, Burnt Norton
In Maine, on clear nights, one can see distinctly, the multiple clusters in the Milky Way galaxy. We are looking at the light from thousands of years ago. We are looking into the past. What does the Big picture think? Nothing, it just blinks, slowly. In the Big picture, we're not even here yet, and we are already gone. – Bo Bartlett
P•P•O•W is pleased to present its eighth exhibition of large scale oil paintings, portraits and preparatory studies in various media by Bo Bartlett.
Well known for his paintings that enlarge on a tradition of American realism shaped by Eakins, Homer and Wyeth, Bartlett's newest work speaks to the bearing and relevance of that tradition on a contemporary sensibility. An affirming contemporary consciousness makes entry into each painting with startlingly beautiful results.
Titled after a line from Eliot's famous poem, Burnt Norton, the group of paintings that make up Still Point of the Turning World, are all a response to our increased awareness of the tenuous nature of life. The paintings reflect Eliot's meditation on time and progress, but from our vantage point after 9/11. They locate the possibility of redemption outside of the constant flux of history.
Sleeper Awake, a eulogy to a young girl who drowned on the Maine island that is the setting for these paintings, asks us to understand how life can change in an instant. In Dancer, a young girl stands on a rock as if on a pedestal. The child is a personification of the dance in Eliot's poem, as she embodies a moment of eternal transition and change. In The Way (pictured) a young girl and an older woman are depicted life-sized on a rocky cliff with the sea in the background. The older figure looks out to sea, the young girl's gaze meets the viewer. Her expression, as she stands firmly on the slippery rocks, seems to indicate a knowledge of the future which permeates this dreamlike scene. Influenced by Homer and Balthus, Bartlett asks us to contemplate human frailty and vulnerability.
Bartlett's mid-career retrospective "Heartland: Paintings by Bo Bartlett, 1978-2002" opened at the Columbus Museum in Georgia in January of 2003 and has since traveled to the Greenville County Museum of Art in South Carolina and is currently at the Frye Art Museum in Seattle, Washington. The exhibition will continue to the Santa Barbara Museum of Art in June of 2004 and then to Bartlett's alma mater, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in September. The retrospective is accompanied by a full color monograph available at P•P•O•W. A 24 page catalogue specific to Still Point of the Turning World will also be available. Please call 212-647-1044 for additional information or for photographic materials.