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The Artful Traveler: Jacob Collins — Rediscovering the American Landscape:

Review by Bobbie Leigh

Leading contemporary realist painter Jacob Collins has been dubbed a "modern old-master" and visitors to his fourth solo show at Hirschl & Adler will immediately understand why.Hen3  Following in the tradition of Hudson River School painters, Collins studies every aspect of sky, land, and sea as well as the movement of clouds, the patterns of waves, and all types of weather. His paintings reflect a deep understanding and appreciation of reality as he sees it. Collins’s new show, "Rediscovering the American Landscape, The Eastholm Project," showcases some 55 works depicting various scenes in and around Eastholm, Vinalhaven, Maine. Over a period of two years, Collins visited Vinalhaven, studying in great detail every aspect of the landscape, especially the sublime light and movement of the waves. In fact, he could easily be labeled a maritime painter like Alfred Thompson Bricher, one of the best known painters of seascapes during the latter part of the 19th century. What is astounding about these paintings is their detail and the lack of any Impressionist or abstract embellishments. No signs of man exist as the paintings are based totally on direct observation of nature. Unlike some Hudson River paintings, here nothing seems to have a religious bent or is hyper romanticized or idolized for dramatic effect. Instead, every painting appears to depict a benevolent Eden without any mysterious subtext. The centerpiece of the show is a huge painting, "The Hen Islands from Eastholm" (above), an oil on canvas 50 X 120 inches, a commission that led to the various works in this show. This grand scale painting depicts a seaside landscape at twilight, dominated by the movement of clouds reflected in calm seashore, surrounded by mossy rocks at low tide. Another riveting work is "Waves with Perspective," Hen2_2 an oil on canvas with white chalk that could only have been painted from direct observation. It like all the works in this show underscores Collins’s reverence for the land and the sea that surrounds it. Think of this exhibition as a summons to all who see it to protect and conserve what is left of our unspoiled landscape. Hirschl & Adler Modern, 21 East 70th Street; 212-535-8810. (May 8-June 13, 2008)

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