catalog essays

Lightscapes: Monoprints and Oil Pastels from Ireland, Woodmere Art Museum
May 13 – June 24, 2001

The monoprints and oil pastels of Stuart Shils—documents of observing and remembering seven summers of the landscape of northwest County Mayo, Ireland—are a glistening strand in the evolution of the artist’s painting. The oil pastels are on-site drawings of nature’s atmospheric spectacles, thunderous markmaking uniting land and sky in layers of air and light. The monoprints, created in the studio on a press using viscous printing inks overlaid with oil pastels, re-invent nature’s mercurial powers, hum with saturated blue night skies. Simultaneously intimate and grandiose, they are the mystical poetry of an astonishing landscape.

More akin to drawing than to the formality of oil painting, these recent works—the handwriting and thought process of the artist—demanded to be shown; I relished the opportunity to share them with the museum visitors. Stuart’s letters from Ireland, rhapsodic works in themselves, amplify the experience of being in the landscape and help trace his creative path. Quotes from the letters appear throughout this catalogue.

Meri Adelman, Robert McNeil Jr. Curator of Education