All at once millions of things around us create the singular place.
My good friend, Eric Beck, wrote a thoughtful statement for the opening of Commerce Gallery in Lockhart. I'd like to share it below.
Eric is the Artistic Director of Lockhart's Gaslight Baker Theatre. This month he is directing "The Moors" which is playing for the next two weekends. I have enjoyed watching this theatre grow and establish itself as the artistic hub of our community.
"Christopher St. Leger’s paintings are stubbornly concerned with place--the unwaveringly particular rendering of locations and situations. The buildings, structures, and even sometimes people he depicts consistently anchor his paintings to specific locales and scenes. It would be wrong to call his work mimetic, but there is very little abstraction of the objects he portrays, very little transformation of the things—lines, shapes, materials--that make them structures. This fidelity to the objects allows St. Leger to display his bravura technical mastery, particularly of the watercolor medium that is notoriously difficult to use realistically. But it also allows him to take the objects he depicts seriously as objects, as things in themselves, and to reckon truthfully with how they interject themselves into our thoughts, our feelings, and our interactions with the worlds they inhabit.
St. Leger’s commitment to depicting place is not, however, a static one. His work does not revolve around a singular site that provides him an endless canvas to explore his themes, like Monet’s Giverny or Cezanne’s Provence or Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County. His creations enact a very mobile sense of place, one that can comfortably and evocatively portray both the Baroque, almost-claustrophobic buildings lining Viennese streets and the open, nearly limitless expanses that hover over Texas small towns. A peripatetic aesthetic that produces intense bursts of space and place but does not remain wedded to location.
That of course does imply that his body of work meanders or lacks focus. What provides it unity is not the subject matter but the artist’s unerring ability to suffuse his work with palpable mood, tone, and feeling. These exist within a stunningly wide range of expression, from dark and foreboding to light and welcoming, and lots of admixtures in between that often defy formula and expectation. Adding to these forms of expression is his disinterest in hiding the operations of chance: the random drip, the stain from the paint can accidentally placed on the painting. These “accidents” are not really a metacommentary on the form of painting but more about the complications of and deviations within mood and feeling themselves—which sometimes converge with the places where they are felt and sometimes don’t. St. Leger admirably doesn’t feel the need to reconcile any of this."
-Eric Beck, Artistic Director, Lockhart Gaslight Baker Theatre