Interview with Richard Currier

According to Richard, the most difficult task for many artists is to explain their artwork to someone who asks, “Why is this done?” or “What does this mean?”. Unlike a work of literature, which must be read to find the message which lies within the words and pages, a painting exists in its entirety right on the surface. Everything the artist intended is exposed for everyone to see in the completed painting.

It is up to the viewer to decide if the work deserves his attention. For the artist, there are no right or wrong answers to the questions of “why?” or “what?” posed by the imagery. The viewer, assuming he is intrigued by a painting, must find his own answers. Often this results in a wide variety of interpretations, because the response of one viewer may be completely different from another‘s. Therein lies the beauty of art. The questions are always the same; it is the response that changes from viewer to viewer, from one period of time to another, and from one set of circumstances to another. Therein, I think, lies the purpose for art. It mirrors the changing human condition in the responses of its viewers.

As a painter of ‘real’ objects, I have always been drawn towards dramatic imagery that uses contrasting elements of color, shape and space. I paint until the objects become more than what they are. Although ‘realism’ is not necessarily the goal, this seems to result in a heightened reality to the images. I enjoy the balance of positive and negative space, pulling imagery from the space as well as pushing space back to expose the form. To me, the subject of my paintings has always been the fusion of light and form. The objects carry light and form within the space and provide a reference for the viewer. This relation of artwork and viewer is very important. Art is incomplete without its audience.

Landscapes, on the other hand, have their own aesthetic. Apart from social or political forms of art, they are a response to a time and place processed through the artist’s imagination. Based on my travels throughout my native Florida, I draw on my emotional responses to the mental images I have collected over the years. I focus not on the objects found in a landscape but on the spaces, infused with light, that lie between the objective realities. That is where I find the passion for painting.

Florida native, Richard Currier, is a master of representational oil painting. His mastery is not revealed in the subjects that he chooses to paint, but rather in the manner in which he represents them.

"Throughout my career I have explored a variety of subjects in various representational styles; however, the true subject of my paintings has always been the fusion of light and atmosphere."

The beginning of his artistic training was at the Ringling School of Art and Design, one of the few schools in the country at that time that concentrated on traditional skills of painting on canvas with a brush.

That infusion of skills led him to travel to Holland and France – particularly Amsterdam and Paris – to experience the scenes painted by 18th and 19th century masters that he loved. His current work might be seen as an outgrowth of the still lifes and landscapes of those earlier masters. His magnified still lifes of fruit and flowers enlarge upon the brilliantly highlighted banquet tables of Abraham van Beyeren, and the atmospheric power of his landscapes, recall the bucolic paintings of Willem Maris. In fact, Currier’s pursuit of “the fusion of light and atmosphere” is much like Maris’s motto,”I don’t paint cows, but rather effects of light.” The Dutch tradition runs through English landscape painting on down to Currier, whose impressions of Florida marshes and waters seem an evolutionary step beyond the work of J.M.W. Turner.

Currier built his house and studio himself, close to the Atlantic coast of Florida. He draws inspiration from the abundance of fruit and flowers, the light-bathed woods, and the storm-battered clouds and sea. But most of all, he is inspired by the ability of oil painting to achieve an almost operatic grandeur just by virtue of its techniques:

“I am intrigued by contrasting elements – color and shape, abstract and objectivity, balance and tension. I paint until the objects become more than what they are, existing in a turbulent atmosphere of substance and movement.”