Explosions of color and expression are de rigueur for the work of painter Henry Finkelstein. His fifth solo exhibition at Valley House Gallery and Sculpture Garden in north Dallas opened last weekend with their annual garden party and runs throughout May. What better place to see gorgeous art than Valley House Gallery and Sculpture Garden in full bloom? Make sure to allow yourself enough time to leisurely stroll the gardens – it’s truly one of the most beautiful places in town to view sculpture outdoors.
Henry Finkelstein is a plein-air landscape painter in the best of the tradition. His landscapes capture the lush gardens, houses, and vistas of both Maine and the Brittany region of France, where he spends summers painting. Finkelstein paints with an immediacy that feels as though you saw the scene with him, a decisive frenzy to get it on the canvas, and a revealing honesty. When the gardens aren’t blooming, he paints luscious large still life paintings in his Brooklyn studio.
His French landscapes are timeless – they could easily have been painted a hundred years ago. Viewing them takes you immediately to the Continent. Larre, Yellow and Blue documents a yellow house with a blue roof on an impossibly beautiful sunny day. Finkelstein paints with pure color mixed on his palette rather than on the canvas. That certainty speaks to his finesse as a master colorist: it’s like the talent of a one-take singer. The Mill at Larre gives the artist a chance to show water reflections and this one is a beauty of pinks and greens and blues. The clouds reflected in the water are stunning. Dead center is a dark green and white flowering bush curving over the water. Combined with the reflection of the curve, it creates a ball of white flowers as a final resting place for your eye. Finkelstein allows us to see some of his process – he makes no attempt to hide all of the charcoal underdrawing with paint. Walled Garden III is an example of a technique the artist uses to create space with color. Without using typical perspective cues, Finkelstein has painted a scene we could walk into – the depth created almost solely with his color.
And then we have Henry Finkelstein’s still life paintings. His talent with light and color glows indoors while bouncing about around his fashioned tableau. As beautifully as these paintings photograph, you must stand in front of them to truly see them. Still Life with Pomegranates is one of his best and the blues, yellows, oranges and teals absolutely sing with delight. Notice the quality of his brushstrokes of the blue wall. It seems as if he’s painting with light instead of paint. Finkelstein often uses the classical technique of including a mirror in his still life paintings – and in the mirror we might see a window. Paintings as a window to the artist’s world? Absolutely – and in the very best sense.