“I have done a number of pictures this summer which have not arrived in my mind from direct impressions but are creations of fancy arising out of my knowledge and experience of the facts employed. The result, while in continual danger of becoming either illustration in a bad sense or melodrama, has nevertheless evolved into very rare pictures.” George Bellows describing his trip to Matinicus Island in a letter to Robert Henri 1916
American painting has a long historical and aesthetic relationship to the landscape. This relationship often viewed as romantic has developed our idea of the natural landscape both as a cultural artifact in painting, but also as a philosophical construction of nature. In the 20th century such painters as George Bellows, Marsden Hartley, Fairfield Porter and Alex Katz explored this heritage as a way of creating an American identity. Mantinicus Island off the coast of Maine was specifically attractive to artists because of the hard working local fisherman and the “unspoiled corner of rustic America” that was still intact in contrast to the industrialization of modern America. Naturally this was a perfect place to react and respond to the landscape with a direct eye.
For his second solo-exhibition at Monique Meloche Gallery, the New York based artist and Maine native Christopher Patch, boarded a single engine Cessna aircraft, with his paints and the hope of re-capturing some inspiration of the exiled island of Matinicus. After one week of walking and making observational en plein air studies it was revealed that behind the typified American mirage, exists a more complex place. The island has gained a hostile reputation for it’s violent behavior between rivaling lobstermen, and it’s aggressive attitudes toward non-residents. With an alarming rise of guns, drugs and all-terrain vehicles, Matinicus is a microcosm of contemporary rural culture. The island’s picturesque beauty, though still intact, serves as a backdrop for interpersonal struggle and severe isolation..
Influenced by this time spent on the Island, Patch went back to his studio in New York and created a series of new images of Matinicus. The artist has crafted paintings that are at once visual documentations but are also intense formally inventive works that are expanding his uncanny ability for detail. While putting this observable natural landscape through a lens of wobbly graphic drawing and an exquisite painterly touch, Patch has created highly ambitious pictorial conundrums. In the studio he works in a refreshing dialogue with representational painting in a continuum as far reaching as the Transcendental Landscape Painters of the 19th century to Robert Crumb.
Christopher Patch (b. Maine 1974, lives Brooklyn) had his 1st solo exhibition at moniquemeloche gallery in 2003. Since that time he relocated from Chicago to Brooklyn and has exhibited in group shows at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Contemporary Vancouver Art Gallery, Portland Museum of Art, New York Institute of Technology, Bronx Museum of Art, and Centre for Maine Contemporary Art. His work is included in the traveling exhibition Poets on Painters organized by the Ulrich Museum of Art, Wichita Kansas with a full-color catalogue including artists Mequitta Ahuja, Abel Auer, Jules de Balincourt, Nina Bovasso, Echo Eggebrecht, James Benjamin Franklin, Joanne Greenbaum, Mark Grotjahn, Angelina Gualdoni, Laura Owens, Christopher Patch, Lamar Peterson, Sam Prekop, Monique Prieto, Christoph Ruchaberle, Anna Schachte, Dana Schutz, Sandra Scolnik, Amy Sillman, and Whiting Tennis. Additional venues include Herron Galleries, Herron School of Art and Design, Indianapolis, IN; University Galleries, Illinois State University, Normal IL; Queens Library Gallery, Jamaica NY; Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery, Lincoln ME. Patch received his BFA from Maine College of Art in 1997 and his MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago 2000.