Still Life with One Blue Butterfly
Oil on linen
26 x 30 in.
Available through North Star Art Gallery
Brian Keeler’s still life paintings will be featured in When Life is Still, a special exhibit at the North Star Art Gallery in August and September. The exhibit expresses contemplation of everyday objects illumined by a variety of light sources. In Still Life with One Blue Butterfly, the late afternoon light is coming through the window off to the side as well as from ambient light.
This year during the pandemic self-isolation and social distancing the process of painting the ephemeral effects of light and the temporal beauty of flowers underscores the purpose of traditional types of still life work. Specifically, the still life paintings of the Dutch 17th century Golden-era are evoked here as they too had an allegorical underpinning through their “vanitias” illustrations of the temporal and impermanent nature of life. The current pandemic has served to further augment appreciation of the common and quotidian qualities of life.
Expressing and describing the beauty of light has been the focus of Brian Keeler’s career in painting. Depicting the “topography of light” is the way he likes to describe this process, as this phrase communicates the way light plays across forms and describes their shapes. His work includes landscape, the figure, portraits, still life and allegorical work. While the subject of the painting is specific, in a certain sense the light actually becomes the subject for Keeler and the scene or depiction takes on a secondary or supporting role. He often chooses the “Golden Hour” as the time for portraying the motifs he selects, as this late afternoon or early morning light accentuates the drama of any given scene. His figurative painting and other genres also incorporate a marvelous appreciation for the way light can reveal the world to us.
Among other artists, patrons and the general public Keeler is known as a colorist; the quality of his color is one of the memorable aspects of his well-crafted work. His art also combines a unique sense of composition, proportional harmonies and draftsmanship, as these paintings, pastels and watercolors show an orchestration of the overall relationships.