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Bill Drew
Painting and Works on Paper

Nilotic Landscape 57" x 68" Painting by Bill Drew

Artist's Statement

My interest in Renaissance painting was first piqued as a young art student in Rome, Italy and focused during the years I spent in Florence, Italy as a Fulbright Scholar.  I was especially intrigued by the way Renaissance frescoes and antique wall paintings eroded; the remaining pieces and missing parts suggested to me a new model for abstract painting.  These early studies evolved over the years into a lifelong exploration adapting the syntax, if you will, of traditional, historical representational painting (i.e. Renaissance) utilized in the context of contemporary abstract painting. 
I use color to articulate flatness, to create the illusion of depth, the primary means by which I complement and contradict the space in my paintings.  I like the flat planes so evident in Mughal miniature painting, the intense color of Fauve and Nabis artists who used color in opposition to their sense of space.  I am very much taken with the intense yet subtly soft contrasting colors in the frescoes of Bronzino and Da Pontormo and the easy tension they created on the edges of their forms.  These artists made paintings that serve as inspiration for me, in finding resolution in ambiguity.


I paint with pure pigment suspended in natural binders of my own creation, which gives me a deeply saturated color, intense yet soft in its own way, reminiscent of the fresco painting I so love.  When I travel I hunt for new pigments, looking for rare and unusual colors.  By now, I have several hundred pigments in my alchemist's box.


For subject matter I look to my individual unconscious for inspiration and at the same time, begin with an historical image of current interest to me or an intriguing geometric order that serves as an aesthetic framework or simply certain colors, which might suggest an appropriate form. 


The beginning of a painting is something of a mystery to me æ over the years I learned to keep the mystery at arms' length.  As I begin to work, I put down an image, let another emerge and paint a third, born of the first two that may very well contradict them.  As I paint, draw, build textures, revise, repaint and refine, the individual forms, geometries and colors erode until the painting achieves a state of flux where each individual painting dissolves into another.  At last, the surface forms a skin that reveals a history of its own making.  Through the process of random and purposeful acts I test my intuition against my intellect.


These days I would say my goal is to create a painting that has the feel of a picture, an abstraction of how a picture of a story might look, engaging the viewer to enter and exit, somehow changed and be drawn back again and again, to discover.


Shoots N Ladders - 76" x 79" Painting by Bill Drew

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