Tom Alberts @ Charles Nodrum Gallery

Tom Albert Bridge 

Tuesday, 19 April 2011 

Tom Alberts @ Charles Nodrum Gallery 

Charles Nodrum Gallery recently unveiled a new exhibition of paintings by Tom Alberts. It consists of seven large canvasses and eleven smaller studies. Those who had been following Tom’s progress over the last decade would agree that the exhibition is a return to form for the artist in terms of thematic coherency of ideas, genres, and subject matters. While his painting technique, execution, and attention to detail has always been beyond reproach, curatorial direction of his exhibitions sometimes did wander from theme to theme, or from one aesthetic direction to another.

Tom Albert LeavesThis exhibition, however, presents a remarkable consistency of forms and ideas. The influence of the Old Masters is still present in these works. While there is a definite nod to Italy in such paintings as Bridge, Leaves, and Sala della Quattro Porte, Alberts is relying less and less on iconographical precedents of other artists (in fact, I could detect only a few direct quotation: Ingres’ La Source and perhaps the rear of Michelangelo’s David). Instead, Tom concentrates increasingly on creating his own iconic visions, which no doubt in time would influence other artists. This is to be applauded and encouraged within the oeuvre of this talented painter.

His wife and muse, Lisa Barmby, is still present within a number of compositions. She appears as a shadowy temptress with a poisoned apple in Study for Trip, as an incarnation of a cartoon devil in Study for The Edge, and her silhouette is ubiquitous in a number of other paintings.

Tom Albert TripBut what is the exhibition actually about? The essay, jointly written by Charles Nodrum and Tom Alberts, sheds little light on semantics of the paintings, and is perhaps as mysterious and allegory-laden as many of the works in the exhibition.

Many of the paintings feature most incongruous events and visions – a hallmark of Tom’s oeuvre and evidence of his thriving and restless imagination – whether it is an over-life-size Gold Boy in the eponymous painting; a golden nude in Gold Pass; or a modern-day Daphne in Study for Leaves. However, one of the most curious aspects of all these works is that people, who are present at all these events, prefer to witness, experience, and remember not through their own eyes but through the lenses of their ever-present digital cameras, however imperfect and altered resulting images would be.

Tom Albert StudyforSaladelleQuattroPorteTo me, therefore, these paintings are about Tom’s hope that the passion for looking, for knowledge, for studying, and experiencing works of art in particular (and life in general) first hand rather than through digital and printed medium will endure and survive; and this is expressed in a figure of a girl who is about to enter a museum in Bridge, or a lonesome artist who is capturing on a sheet of paper a vision of a floating cherubim in Sala della Quattro Porte.


 [© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2011. This article is copyright, but the full or partial use is WELCOME with the full and proper acknowledgment]

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Eugene Barilo v. Reisberg

April 2011


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