Exhibition Reviews | Visual Arts

Cary Griffiths’ Black Paintings

Vulnerability will be on tap when Art at the Main exhibits Cary Griffiths’ new show April 14th – May 10th, with an artist’s reception April 18th 6-9pm. While Griffiths is well known for dissonant mood work (read: expressionist abstract), Light in a Dark Place is a risk for him.

“I’ve never told people about this dark side,” he says.

The collection started with a piece Griffiths worked on for three years because he wasn’t satisfied. In frustration, he painted it black.

“This is what I’ve been searching for,” he remembers feeling, watching light hit the black grooves and shift the color.

Black nuanced the work. In his living room, the painting changed depending on the height of the sun, and his next seven paintings came within two years. While some have color—an undercurrent of blue or orange—Griffiths craves minimalism, what he calls “creating mood and rhythm with less and less color, with less and less detail.”

“I want to push the paint,” he says, but he’s also afraid.

“I’m really putting myself out there and taking a gamble. People might look at me and say, oh—you’ve finally lost your marbles.

And response to this show, how people resonate with his work, feels particularly important. “These are the culmination of my life’s experiences—everything I’ve learned to date. I struggle to keep this blackness out of myself, and there are times I just let it come, and the paint painting itself is alive, and I go with what’s happened: create grooves and deep pockets to reflect how I’m feeling.”

“One composition evokes a massive wave of black which, when it crashes, scatters itself,” writes Katharine English, Vice President of the Writers at Work Board and art enthusiast. “But even as we watch the destruction, the light changes, moves the moment forward.”

While Griffiths usually refuses to define paintings by adding titles, he has a rare piece in this show named “Shadow Dancing.” “I worked on it for a long time,” he says, “and it especially has a rhythm; I tried to capture the shadows, the soul coming forward and back in depression and sadness.”
Painter Terrece Beesley watches a Griffiths canvas move from tar black to blue highlight, from rushing downpour to rising optimism. In a brightly lit room she sees yellows and ochers, strong contrasts, a tumult of variety in Griffiths’ clusters, valleys, and ridges.

In the negative of light, there is such color.

The gallery will provide seating for Griffiths’ light watchers and a book for comments.



Camille Pack teaches Language Arts at a private boarding school and received her MA in Literature and Writing from Utah State University.

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