GL Richardson’s stark compositions portray vastness, feelings of distance amplified by a seemingly endless sky or a figure’s obscured face. Like watching the world go by from a window, there’s a sense of the painting’s subjects being simultaneously close-at-hand and unreachable. Even if we’ve been out there, in that space beyond the window, there now exists a threshold – the glass both allowing us a glimpse and keeping us separated from what lies beyond.
Richardson has been beyond the threshold and back again. In his first solo show at Blue Rain Gallery titled Twin Window, Richardson’s oil-on-panel paintings draw inspiration from a formative year-long experience he had working on a New Mexico ranch. In this body of work, he reflects on that cowboy year, gazing back at it through the window.
“I paint the ranching lifestyle of cowboys and the west and that’s pretty much all I’ve ever painted,” he says, “It’s very human.”
There is something inherently grounding about working with animals and the earth, about stewardship of the land. It’s an experience many will never have, and Richardson says he feels blessed to have had the opportunity.
“It is just so real and tangible and true. I think that where humans are now, we don’t necessarily have access to things that are so grounded like ranching.”
By painting the lifestyle of cowboying, Richardson shares his past experience with both viewers and his current self. Now that he has dedicated himself full-time to his art, he stands with the viewer at the window, looking back. He does, however, remind us of the reciprocal quality of a window – his work looks back at him, the product of his ranching experience and “everything that it taught me, everything that I learned, all the ways that I grew from it”. For the viewer, that means realizing there may be something looking back in through that window, or through that painting.
In the works for Twin Window, Richardson says “the subject matters are oftentimes seemingly aware of your gaze. You’re not hiding. You’re not invisible. It’s more vulnerable in that way.”
This first show is more vulnerable for Richardson also. He paints from a studio surrounded by windows where the world looks in at him, and us as viewers alongside it. He, too, is not hiding or invisible. Through his paintings, we get to catch a window’s glimpse into that year of ranching and tending the land. And though the work is personal, within it exists larger universal truths. The paintings are strikingly emotive. In them Richardson conveys a poetic human desire for rawness and artful simplicity. The moments he paints appear commonplace – a bucket at a well, an afternoon walking in the field – and yet there is a significant beauty in that mundanity, and a lesson in finding it through our own windows.
Blue Rain Gallery presents GL Richardson’s Twin Window – A Guadalupe Street Feature. The show opens Friday, July 14th with an artist reception from 5pm to 7pm. The show will be on exhibit through July 29th.