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Realistic Paintings by Ray Kleinlein

 

An art exhibition at Davidson College features realistic paintings by Ray Kleinlein that pay homage to "the importance of labor as a meaningful method of achieving fulfillment, the necessity of gratitude as a way to remain humble and thoughtful, and the pursuit of perfection as a measure of realizing enlightenment." That's the opinion of K. Johnson Bowles, director of the Center for the Visual Arts at Longwood College in Farmville, Va., who wrote an essay for the brochure for this exhibition, which is on display through April 16, 2004.

Kleinlein, a visiting assistant professor of art at Davidson from 2002-2004, renders everyday objects such as coffee cups, pastry, napkins, and socks with startling clarity and honesty that reflects traditions of still life painting from the Dutch Baroque to Pop Art.

Kleinlein attended the Columbus College of Art and Design as an undergraduate, and Ohio University as a graduate student. At CCAD he mastered the style of Baroque still life painters, complete with a stage-like setting and dramatic lighting. In graduate school, Kleinlein threw out old-master-inspired props in favor of humble and unremarkable objects such as cardboard boxes, stacks of toilet paper, and pillows.

Bowles writes, "In each painting a carefully selected object is elevated for contemplation. The object's exquisite characteristics exude from Kleinlein's paintings, which are grounded in education, choice of lighting, point of view, composition, palette, and brushwork. His works also pay homage to labor and to the notion of perfection as a worthy pursuit." (right: Ray Kleinlein, Coffee Cups)

Kleinlein's painting of a coiled electrical cord, entitled Figure 8, conceptually wrestles with the idea of perfection. The cord isn't quite perfectly wrapped, but the "imperfect" object is perfectly painted. The viewer sees an electrical cord as a beautiful object, and is led to consider the notion of perfection in a meaningful way.

Bowles writes, "Ultimately, Ray Kleinlein's paintings are rich with history, humor, and meaning. The works are excellent demonstrations of his abilities. But they are also excellent manifestations of his personal philosophy. The works offer homage to painting and humble objects, but also to a life of looking, living, and learning."

 

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