Terry De Lapp Galleries, Los Angeles
Acquired by the present owner from the above in 1980
In his conclusion to the catalogue essay for the 1985 David Park exhibition at Salander – O'Reilly, the renowned critic and curator Henry Geldzahler wrote, ``Adolph Gottlieb once wrote that people are always crying for a return to the figure, but no one seems to be interested in going forward to it. I suggest that this was exactly David Park's genius. He remade the human presence for his generation, a generation that was full of despair at man's inhumanity, and full of hope that man's noblest values would prevail.'' Bathers was included in this exhibition and is a classic example of Park's best work, both in technique and subject matter. As Geldzahler elaborated ``Park's special gift as an artist was in the sureness with which he was able to wield a heavily loaded brush to create, with the building blocks of his brushstrokes, convincing equivalences to the ways we see and feel the figure in a natural setting. Richard Diebenkorn has written `He was ... in love with oil paint ...which he manipulated with frank relish, creating from it his powerful and loving statements affirming the possibilities of a densely loaded and vigorously articulated canvas – plus humanity as he perceived it...'. ''
David Park, an influential teacher at the California School of Fine Art in Berkeley from 1943-1952, was a leading member of the West Coast Abstract Expressionists, who were keen observers of the New York school of non-objective painting of the 1940s. Congregated around educational institutions where Clyfford Still and Mark Rothko briefly taught in the 1940s, they enjoyed an atmosphere of mutual support and creative exchange. This artistic community became a breeding ground for the Bay Area Figurative painting style of the 1950s, galvanized by David Park's exhibition of figurative paintings in 1951.
Leading the way, Park combined observations from nature with a subconscious investigation of the state of modern man. His innate gift for saturated color and predilection for pastoral settings, brings a haunting tone to the classic nudes of Bathers. The two slim figures poised before a crashing wave in an airless space embody Geldzahler's comment that Park's did not so much paint a portrait of people, ``but their aura, their radiant energy. In virtually every one of his mature pictures, Park captures the glow that animates.''
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