Patrick K. Pryor, a Kolman & Pryor Gallery artist and co-owner, has recently become fascinated with traditional landscape painting. In Mutable Landscapes, his new show of abstract work, Pryor takes a viewfinder approach to investigating movement and transformation in a new series of abstract landscapes. Mutable Landscapes begins Thursday, November 6 and closes on Saturday, November 29, 2014 with a free public reception on Saturday, November 8, 7-10 p.m. during Art Attack, the Northrup King Building’s fall open studio weekend.
“These landscapes have a mutable quality that allows them to be in constant movement and transformation, which are two primary tenets of my work as a painter,” Pryor explains. “Land could become sea, foreground could become rocks or a lake. Landscapes could be seascapes and show a distant horizon; be dust that’s swirling or settling; wind or rain or fog or clouds or snow. The multiplicity of interpretations allows me to explore and express philosophical questions of relativism and absolutism.”
A former environmental engineer and science educator, Pryor draws from that experience by abstracting forms and patterns from the natural world. In this series of abstract landscapes, in which layers of color, gesture and shape reach down and up off the canvas, Pryor effected the works’ depth by pulling the pigment horizontally across the canvas using a plastic wedge, then sanded each layer to create a smooth absorbent surface for the next layer of paint. He also buried each layer in clear acrylic medium.
In addition to constraining his process by applying paint using only horizontal movements and by limiting his color palette, Pryor forced a foreground through which to observe his landscapes. He also painted a frame along the edge of the canvas. “The frame establishes a viewfinder and reminds us that we are consuming the landscape through windows, picture frames and the edges of a photo,” he explains. “We can never capture the immensity of viewing the landscape in person and our consumption of it is always in small chunks.”
Pryor began painting professionally nine years ago and is engaged in an ever-evolving style of abstraction that’s growing in complexity, technical acuity, kinetic energy and emotional resonance. Since 2004, his work’s been added to more than 140 collections, or been commissioned as site-specific work, throughout Minnesota, and in Toronto and Kansas City, Kansas. As an interdisciplinary collaborator he’s worked in film and video, and with dancers, other visual artists and fashion designers, including Christopher Straub from “Project Runway.”