ALAN BRAY has earned a national reputation from his hometown of Sangerville, Maine. There, he develops mystical paintings about the phenomena of nature in very familiar scenes. He allows his self-conscious to dissolve as he lets particularities of place, such as the branching of trees, the drifting and melting of the snow and the meandering of flowing water reveal their structures to him. He incorporates elements of memory and dream to achieve an interconnectedness where what you see folds into what you feel and know.The New Yorker Magazine described his work as “meditations on landscape, rather than attempts to open a window on the world.”
Alan studied at the Art Institute of Boston, The University of Southern Maine and Villa Schifanola Graduate School of Fine Arts, in Florence Italy. The Portland Museum of Art in Portland, Maine, gave him the solo show, “Redefining Landscape”. He has had solo exhibitions at the Center Gallery of the University of Southern Maine, The Farnworth Art Museum in Rockland, Maine, Schmidt Bingham Gallery in New York, A.V.C. Contemporary Arts Gallery in New YOrk, Barridorf Galleries in Portland, Maine, Garvey/Simon Art Access in New York, Gleason FIne Arts in Portland and has been represented by the Caldbeck since 2003. He has been included in invitational exhibits across the US, in France and in Italy. His work is part of public collections from New York to California. The art books featuring his paintings and magazines with critical acclaim, while too numerous to list in their entirety here, include Carl Little’s Paintings of Maine. Bray’s work can be seen at www.alanbray.com
“I have never been able to paint Plein Air. I have great admiration for those who can and appreciation for the spontaneity and verve that is so integral a part of the process. I’ve never been comfortable with the two dimensional aspect of artist and subject so I have taken to painting with my feet in the sense that I require a thorough knowledge of how what I am looking at relates to all of its surroundings. What’s on the other side of the hill? What’s around the corner? How does it expand my knowledge of what I think I know about what I see?
It is among the intricate structures of phenomena that I look for an innate order of things. It is the branching pattern of trees, the drifting of snow, the meanders of flowing water, the swaying of grass in the wind, or the conjoining of ripples on the surface of a pond that imparts to a place and a time it’s particularity. To become a vital part of that particularity is to achieve familiarity, an intimacy and affection that serves to reorder the experience of a place. When I slow down and give myself up to a place or a phenomena it is to try and forget what I think I know and enter into a fresh state where all incidental details are eliminated and what appears to be chaos is organized into pattern.
This is how I approach a painting today. I know it will be a month-long meditation on a subject that will, in the best case, reveal new and unexpected nuances as it progresses. Most importantly it will, over time, clarify for me what it wants to be about because what is germane and essential is not always apparent at the outset. Each painting is a slow accretion born out of this ruminative process.”
“We shall tell it at length, thoroughly, in detail – for when did a narrative seem too long or too short by reason of the actual time or space it took up? We do not fear being called meticulous, inclining as we do to the view that only the exhaustive can be truly interesting.” Thomas Mann
Alan Bray, November 2017