Aaron Westerberg is an American painter whose graceful work has earned him a quietly passionate yet well deserved following. His work is constructed in the language of the coolly sensual aesthetics of late nineteenth century American painting, the somber gilded beauty of James McNeill Whistler, what we see in Westerberg is a similar way of working with luminous vibrant color, and tonality contrasted with matte areas of pigment. The contemporary artist notes his adoration of John Singer Sargent. The seemingly ease of his subjects remind me of Sargent, and it is interesting to note that Westerberg, like Sargent was trained in the studio of master painters (Jeffery Watts) and, and emerged a portrait painter of considerable skill and finesse.
In Westerberg’s paintings there is a perfected dance between abstract surface and realism, a painterly indulgence with brush and pigment, that draws the viewer in, sumptuous paired with rigor in the atelier style.
Within, there is a powerful sensuality, somehow restrained by paint, by line and composition, and yet deeply feminine, the sensibility like that of Sargent’s notorious yet enduring work Madame X. You will see the similarities, and like me, I imagine, enjoy them….. ah the cool perfection of a Greco-Roman stance, the white skin like marble, the astonishingly arresting patterning made by great panels of color, emphatically yet intuitively laid out in an unerring harmony and disruption.
Often the search for painterly beauty is a complex journey, whether it is trying to capture the sublime on earth, or the achingly translucent skin of a model, an answer to one’s own spiritual questions, or the story of ambition. Overall the work has a classical form, and yet there remains a sense of the contemporary world, and an immediacy in the depth and warmth of tones and colour, even in the more monochromatic works.
I am always after beauty whether in design or the beauty of a woman’s face.
Often times I am unsure of why I might choose particular subject or theme. I have to step back from the work and it is only much later I can to see the true meaning. A lot of my paintings are about self discovery..
The artist enjoys the peace of solitude, and there is this feeling in many of his works, as he builds on color blocks and unfinished surface. Westerberg is self-taught, so while he does feel an affinity for the masters of the late 19th century, his process is his own, and quite direct, at present he does not glaze or work in layers. Rather the artist begins with a sketch or underpainting without details, but with proportions and values laid out.
We are too reluctant to love beauty these days, imagining in a rather impoverished way, that such simple realistic loveliness may mean a simpleness on our part that is no great compliment. But it is not a simplicity to be able to paint like this, to make one picture after another that has a classicism, a succulence, a drowning in paint, brush and the color of light.
Visit Aaron’s website here
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