By Ed Sholty, Board Member Friends of the Bath House Cultural Center
How does one describe the work of John Kingerlee? It’s like confronting ancient strata of rock and soil. Collectors and those who love Kingerlee’s art, painting—or Ireland—will be able to experience Kingerlee’s vision when the Bath House Cultural Center joined with Alan Barnes Fine Art to present “Turning to the Light,” which opened March 9.
Paintings by Kingerlee, whom the late Edmund “Ted” Pillsbury, long-time director of the Kimball Museum, called “this century’s Turner,” require an almost meditative attention. A quick once-over and they show nothing memorable. Given time, they open themselves to you.
The more you know of his favorite haunts—Fez, Morocco, and his beloved Western Irish coast—the more there is to see in his heavily textured, layered works. He conjures a whole landscape without depicting it; a seascape, without resorting to slavish attention to details. His depictions of the human form seem to be viewed through a thick Irish fog.
The exhibition at the Bath House was the largest collection of artwork by Mr. Kingerlee to be exhibited in a public art institution in Texas in more than three years. The paintings and collages of John Kingerlee have been praised by curators, museum directors, collectors, and art critics. The artist developed a friendship with Dr. Pillsbury, former Director of the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth and a prominent figure in the American art museum scene, who so admired Kingerlee’s talent that he compared Kingerlee’s artistic legacy to that of Turner and Cézanne. After meeting him, Pillsbury concluded that “ultimately, the power of John Kingerlee’s art resides in its capacity to make the viewer see the world with fresh eyes.”
Kingerlee has exhibited his works in many countries, including the United States, Russia, Canada, and across Europe. He was also honored as being the first Irish artist in history to be invited to have a solo exhibition at the National Museum of China.
“Turning to the Light” opened in the main Gallery of the Bath House Cultural Center on Saturday, March 9, 7-9 PM. It continued through April 13, 2013. It was accompanied by another show of 18 local artists, “A Mountain by the Ocean, a Man and a Woman.” The theme of that exhibition emerged while the Bath House Cultural Center staff conducted research for the Kingerlee exhibition.