Loretta Howard Gallery is pleased to present a selection of important canvases by Cleve Gray from the 1970’s. These works highlight the artist’s relationship to Japanese and Chinese philosophy and art. These paintings allude to similar devices in the scroll paintings of China and Japan. His familiarity with this subject began at Princeton University where he studied Far Eastern Art under George Rowley and wrote his senior thesis on the landscape painting of the Yuan dynasty.
Carter Ratcliff explains:
Confronting us with displays of theatrical emotions, an Abstract Expressionists turned momentary ego-states into subject matter. As we’ve seen, Gray finds his subjects outside himself, in the alternation of night and day (Phoebus), in music (Cadence), in the permutations of language (Conjugation), in ancient culture (Shaman). Never picturing these themes, he alludes to them, not for their own sake, solely, but for the further allusions his gesture persuades them to make. Underlying this profusion of meaning, pervading it, is the artist’s presence—not insisted upon, in the Expressionist manner, but powerful, nonetheless. To borrow a phrase from the Chinese discussion of individual styles, Gray is present in his paintings as a hsin-hua—“a heart-print,” as it is usually translated, which we might understand as the abiding pulse of the artist’s being.