Heavenly Bodies and Other Attractions
Art New England, Apr/May 2008
McGowan Fine Art
Concord, New Hampshire
March 18, 2008 - April 26, 2008
By Craig Stockwell
Bert Yarborough spends his summers in Provincetown and likes to go to Herring Cove Beach and set himself up for a day of drawing and painting. I can easily imagine him creating a pocket of sensual disorder as paper and sand and paint and sweat and saltwater all commingle. This immersion without direction is important to Yarborough’s process; within this immersion is a receptivity to image and experience that is integral to his art. It was during these excursions that Yarborough began observing and painting the small sea birds that run along the shore. There was, in their pecking, something that resonated with mortality. In the beach heat Yarborough got to thinking of himself as, “a piece of meat waiting to happen.” From this viewing developed an image of a bird pecking at a sideways-fallen head, gory and raw…yet, stylized to the extent that we understand it to be metaphor. Another image that has emerged from these beach trips is the blazing full sun, our heavenly body. And the consideration of the sun has given rise to an equal consideration of our other dominant heavenly body, the moon.
Sun, moon, death, pecking: it all adds up to looking death in the face. The large acrylic and oil painting that dominates this exhibit is a diptych. On the right panel are the two large heavenly bodies (sun, moon) in stark absoluteness. These are minimal images painted maximally (texture, overloaded color). On the left panel is a constituted portrait/head. The painting begins with multiple gestural layers covering the entire canvas. The final steps define the edges of the head with solid-color background painting and (with a few moves to define features) the head emerges. The result is a portrait that considers the immateriality of body, hence suggests one more heavenly body. This is the celestial body rather than the body constituted of flesh and earth. The work in this exhibit is a coherent and sensual consideration of one’s ephemerality. This work grows out of a developed process that has carefully prepared for spontaneity, intuition and immersion.