Self Exile

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FlatbrookShadows_200h While respectful toward theory, Richard Wengenroth has never doubted Leonardo’s dictum: “The supreme misfortune is when theory outstrips performance”. By the mid-80s, Wengenroth had become convinced that the art world was top-heavy with theory and that it had outstripped performance. He withdrew, conceptually, and decided to go before Nature, without preconception, and simply draw what he saw before him. In this “return to basics”, he limited himself to black and white and ink wash. In a rural corner of New Jersey, he drew en plein aire for three years.

For an exhibition of these drawings at the Field Gallery in Martha’s Vineyard, he wrote: “It is absorbing to be engaged with the natural world because the subject is at once visually complex and sublimely disinterested. And since our perceptions of nature are just that – ours – the engagement is inevitable and simultaneously an engagement with Self, but indirectly and, importantly, humbled.”