The contemporary figurative work of D. Read Lockhart debuted with the grand opening Saturday (Sept. 2) of his new gallery of the same name. Located just a few doors north of the Taos Plaza stoplight, at 107 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, the sparsely hung gallery radiates the rich hush of a fine art space, so welcome in the heart of downtown Taos.
Though Lockhart taught oil painting and watercolor classes at University of New Mexico-Taos for a year and also at Moore College of Art & Design and Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, his own art is front and center.
His contemporary figurative painting has a sense of the Renaissance, masterful drawing with a kind of foreboding beauty. A bald openness, however, peers unwaveringly through the glossy oils of his subjects, as though he is standing at your elbow and asking forthrightly, “What do you think?”
Landscapes and portraits stand side by side. “Michelle” is an exquisite painting of the back of a woman’s head and neck, so immediate you can almost smell the soap from her shower. “Flay,” depicting a giraffe hunt in Africa, is on the other end of the spectrum of combining art forms, almost Fauvist, with semiabstract figures, strong painterly qualities and color emphasis, yet with more realistic values.
In an interview last week, sandwiched between prepping walls and hanging artwork for the grand opening, he says undergrad study of Western classics definitely shaped his classical aesthetic, but he wanted a modern program that didn’t discourage the technical arts, the drawing, knowledge of materials and how they work.
He has a series on chefs, the process of culinary artists, which can be contrasted with “Mr. Garcia’s Sheep,” a very large tour de force pencil drawing of an Arroyo Seco shepherd.
“I was trained working from life,” he explains later in an email. “But the pictures I make are often too complicated for me to set up. So, in the end, I invent a lot. Paintings like ‘Michelle’ are done from life, but paintings like ‘Flay’ are invented, done with models and the use of photographs and mirrors. Whatever it takes to make a painting stand on its own.”
Like many artists, a painting often starts with lots of energy and then things slow down.
“I think that one of the most important things about painting is timing,” he says. “I guess the middle is the most challenging because of the change of pace. You sometimes feel like you’ve lost the flow of a picture and that can be mentally defeating. One must push past this feeling and recognize that the painting requires a different pace.”
Canvases start differently, depending on the picture and the situations involved. “Large works often evolve out of smaller works. And smaller works give clues as to how to start the larger works. The best works (or most satisfying anyway) evolve in the middle of the making and therefore their ‘plan’ goes awry, it’s in losing the path and rediscovering a new way to go that the painting takes on an energy that is necessary.”
As far as his palette is concerned, it swings widely. He was trained in a limited color manner. However, he loves color and can only say that he feels his “relationship to color is growing with every new painting and every idea. Although color – to use it properly – needs to be mastered and to be right on the edge of out of control. I am aiming at this.”
He didn’t study art until after college. “I kind of rejected art in my youth and wanted a life in business. That was in my early 20s – and when I went into business, I found I absolutely hated it.”
After getting a Bachelor of Arts degree in the classics from St. John’s College of Santa Fe in 2000, he lived abroad a few years and ultimately decided to follow in the fine arts tradition of his forebears. Born in Lake Bluff, Illinois, Lockhart is the son of Anne Lockhart and photographer, woodworker and designer David L. Lockhart, now both of Taos, and the grandson of the late American wildlife painter, James Lockhart.
Read Lockhart studied drawing and painting through select apprenticeships in New York and Florence, Italy. In 2014, he received a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
For more information, call (847) 528-0980 or visit readlockhart.com.