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Florence Griswold Museum Announces Tula Telfair's Landscapes in Counterpoint
Tula Telfair, "Within the Reality of Ideas II", 2008. Courtesy: Forum Gallery.
OLD LYME, CT.- From April 24 through June 27, 2010 the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, Connecticut presents Tula Telfair: Landscapes in Counterpoint. The exhibition pairs nine new monumental paintings by the artist with her selection of nineteenth and early twentieth-century paintings from the museum’s collection. Telfair’s choices, which include works by Thomas Cole and Frederic E. Church, establish the visual foundation for, as well as a counterpoint to, her own large-scale landscapes—paintings that are informed by both tradition and imagination. “We’re thrilled that the artist is creating new work for this exhibition that is contemporary and yet also in dialogue with the long history of landscape painting,” states Amy Kurtz Lansing, curator of the Florence Griswold Museum.

Telfair’s poetic landscapes, some over 9 by 6 feet, seem strangely familiar, their grandeur recalling the picturesque panoramas captured in the nineteenth century by artists of the Hudson River School. Yet unlike painters who record what they see in front of them, Telfair composes her romantic scenes from memory, drawing partially upon the vistas of her youth in West Africa. Telfair often positions the viewer above or at a distance from the landscapes, leaving tantalizingly indistinct details like roads or houses that might acknowledge a human presence in the scenes. An appreciation for the history of art also permeates Telfair’s work. Her embrace of ideal landscapes recalls the painters of the Renaissance, as does her use of glazes to impart translucence to her paintings. At the same time, Telfair’s absorption in the formal qualities of her work is undeniably modern. Her landscapes are, in essence, bands of colors. “Telfair builds and frames her fictional visions with brilliant color that illuminates her enormous, active and unforgettable skies.” Remarks Robert Fishko, Director of the Forum Gallery in New York. “Horizons are transitory spaces, alive with the intensity of reflected luminance; clouds are spectacular dramas, unfolding and revealing their tumescent stories.” The noticeable brushwork in her patches of silver, brown, or blue contrasts with the glossy illusionism of the landscapes, reminding us that in the end, these glorious panoramas are paint rather than a window onto another reality.

Telfair received her BFA from Moore College of Art in Philadelphia and her MFA from Syracuse University. She is a professor of art at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, where she has served as chair of the Art and Art History Department. Telfair’s works have appeared in numerous solo and group exhibitions, and are owned by private and public collections around the country, including the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Redding Art Museum, and General Electric Corporation.


Florence Griswold Museum | Old Lyme | Thomas Cole | Frederic E. Church | Tula Telfair |


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