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Portland Art Museum Presents APEX: Ann Gale
Ann Gale, Self Portrait with Blue Stripes, 2007. Ann Gale, Self Portrait with Blue Stripes, 2007, Oil on masonite, Courtesy of Hackett-Freedman Gallery, San Francisco.

PORTLAND, OR.- APEX: Ann Gale, featuring four new large paintings and a succession of small portraits, is the fourth installation in the Portland Art Museum’s series celebrating the region’s most noteworthy contemporary work. Highly attuned to the importance of the mark, Seattle figurative painter, Ann Gale, captures many hours of shifting light and changing emotion in one concentrated moment. Psychologically charged, her fragmented, tension-filled portraits convey the physicality of the sitter and a measured passing of time through a methodical accumulation of brushstrokes rooted in the simple act of observation.

For Gale, the human subject is essential. She spends hours observing and getting to know her sitters before painting. She works slowly, often taking up to two years to complete a painting. While friends and family served as muse for early work, Gale’s recent oil paintings feature professional models, each with unique qualities that captivate Gale’s continued attention.

"I’m honored to present Ann Gale’s first solo museum exhibition in a region where a reverence for the figure and love for paint is so alive," states Jennifer A. Gately, The Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Curator of Northwest Art. "As a graduate student at Yale, the teachings of Dean Andrew Forge and Professor William Bailey helped to shape Gale’s intuitive sense of the figure, and measured accrual of distinct horizontal and vertical brushstrokes."

Her complex and demanding work process requires her models to sit for three hours at a time. The resulting physical discomfort breeds a palpable intimacy and deep emotional exposure. Focusing on the gaze, Gale’s penetrating portraiture goes beyond the surface of her sitters to capture their emotions. Gale not only observes her model’s posture and expression, but views them in terms of light and color. "The vivacity of Gale’s mark is heightened by a studied process of looking that reveals an eye obsessed with the play of natural light and a deep concern for structure and color relationships," says Gately. She employs neutral hues to capture what she calls her sitters "color environment" and the atmosphere of their surroundings, preventing the intrusion of narrative and creating a nuanced background that concurrently advances and recedes upon the sitter.

About Ann Gale - Ann Gale received a BFA from Rhode Island College and a MFA from Yale University School of Art. Her work has been displayed in galleries nationwide. Gale has won numerous awards, including a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship and a Western States Art Federation/National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. She is currently a professor of art at the University of Washington, Seattle. Her influences include Antonio Lopez Garcia, Lucian Freud, and Alberto Giacometti. Her techniques and process of figural observation have been compared to Philip Pearlstein and Chuck Close.

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