Charles DuBack - An Unreconstructed Modernist at Jameson

It’s in the nature of newspaper scheduling that you don’t always get to write about those interesting events, so I haven’t had the time or column inches to devote to a veteran painter of considerable interest, Charles DuBack at Jameson Gallery in Portland. His show ends this weekend, July 26, so here’s a somewhat belated appreciation.

I never saw his work in New York, although he had been part of the scene there for a long time when I first got there. If memory serves, I first saw his work shown by the late Don Slagel in a little gallery in Waldoboro. I recognized right away that here was an artist who had drunk at the fountain of modernist art with real gusto. He was, and remains, at the age of 82, a believer in the lessons of Matisse and the other pioneers.

 His recent work skirts the edges of true abstraction, with references that make his work both a picture of something it isn’t, while building collection of colors and shapes that are their own content. The anchor of everything he does is color. He uses brilliant hues and strokes, sometimes creating an image and others creating a setting for a barely suggested narrative. As with most good modernist art, there are layers of experience in each of his paintings that only become apparent with time. This is a show to visit slowly.

The Jameson Gallery is at 305 Commercial Street in Portland


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