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 Gerard Huber  (1953 - )

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Lived/Active: Texas/Iowa / Italy      Known for: visionary realism paintings

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Courtesy of Res Nova Gallery


Born: 1953

The artist lives and works in Dallas, TX

Gerard Huber was born in 1953 in Iowa.  He earned his MFA in painting in 1975 from the Cranbrook Academy of Art, and his Bachelor Degree (with high honors) in Drawing and Painting from the University of Northern Iowa.

As the recipient of a Fellowship in Painting from the National Endowment for the Arts/Mid America Arts Alliance (1994), he traveled to Rome, Athens and Naples to study and document antique Greco-Roman sculptures in situ.  At that time he also assembled a photographic archive as a reference source.  Although the artist once painted exclusively with an airbrush, he has since employed a sable paintbrush to sketch studies for larger paintings with a more spontaneous result.
During his study in Rome, the artist was entranced with both the unique quality of the Mediterranean light and the capacity for that light at different times of day to be a prevailing influence to the mood of interior or exterior architecture, a landscape, an artwork.  He uses the ephemeral force of this light as a fluid element to effect a confluence of gesture on expression and overall mood.  He reinforces this using Old Master painting techniques and elegant, tension-suffused compositions.  His use of muscular, nude figures reflects a present-day worship of the perfect physique—and its tangent to the classical Greek concept, physical perfection as a mirror for spiritual perfection—is expressed here by the contrast of modern life-figures arrested in a moment of interaction with archetypal forms.
In Gerard Huber’s work, one finds the marriage of impeccable perfection of craft to an imagery that is timeless and modern, confrontational and beautiful, universal and personal.  With a limited palette of color and an elegant sensibility, Huber articulates a full range of emotional and political meaning for the contemporary viewer.  His unambiguous technique is a sure vehicle for the sincerity of his sentiment, while his chosen, symbolic format underlines the universality of his expression and imbues the pictures with a backdrop of classical mystique.
The artist’s elaborate vision defining the soul of our civilization and his prescient representation of what he sees as the propelling forces behind the quasi-spiritual society in which we live create tension-filled pictures that serve as sort of ‘footprints’ of the conflicting values of our times.  Huber’s preoccupation with content is in fact only eclipsed by his profound obsession with beauty and with the defining of it.
With an abstracted and montaged format, juxtaposed with images bordering on ‘camp’, the artist indicated private religious observations and socio-political subjects in his earlier Fan paintings.  More recently the artist broadened his point of view to contain a dialogue re: an examination of the vast spiritual and political landscape of the late 20th century.  In his grisaille and goldleaf Urn pictures, Huber pared elements to create minimal, abstract compositions that are at once complicated and facile.  Upon a closer look, beyond their out-size scale and their decorative, bas-relief patterns rendered in shades of grey another layer of meaning unfolds to reveal a dense narrative within the abstract that describes global concerns such as the destruction of our environment and women’s issues.

Technically, these works recall the artist’s photorealist beginnings while also showcasing the skills of a now Master, turn-of-the-century Visionary Realist painter.  And with the evolution of his Classical Figures work, Huber has contrasted provocative, contemporary imagery with that of artifacts from an idealistic and an historically profoundly spiritual culture, to illustrate his slant on present social values. The resulting paintings were perhaps cathartic for the artist, while for the viewer they portray beauty with the added, confrontational drama of voyeuristic participation demanding an interactive contemplation of content.

The artist presently teaches at Texas A&M University in Commerce, TX.

The following information is excerpted from "Visionary Realism" by Frederick Turner, American Arts Quarterly, Summer/Fall 2000

It is becoming clear that a new tradition in the visual arts is emerging as an alternative to the modernist-postmodernist machine that is now, after a century of success as a vehicle for our hopes and ideas, grinding towards its end.  The new movement shows great diversity of style and emphasis but also a certain deep coherence whose common theme might be called “Visionary Realism”.  It is still, as yet, a minority group in the general run of fashionable art, and has barely a foothold in the academy and the establishment art press. Indeed, the movement looks now as the New Formalism and New Narrative movements in poetry did a few years ago-—embattled, and under ideological attack.... But the artists of the movement have begun to become aware of each other, and the new century is beginning to get the new eyes it needs and craves.

What is “visionary realism”?  It is “realistic” in that it acknowledges a real world out there.... Artists working in this direction look beyond the surface of the world, as Blake did, and paint or sculpt the archetypal shapes they see there.  Here we find the remarkable Russian sculptor Mihail Chemiakin and the equally remarkable American sculptor Audrey Flack.  Athos Ongaro’s odd, gaudy painted bas-reliefs and Carlo Maria Mariani’s exquisite dream visions also seem to fit here, as do the ghostly, dignified and elegant photographs of Joyce Tenneson and the surreal neoclassical urn-and-fan paintings of Gerard Huber.

-Frederick Turner is Founders Professor of Arts and Humanities at the University of Texas, Dallas.




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