MANCHESTER — The Ellenbogen Gallery will exhibit 10 framed watercolor paintings by Bennington artist Reg Darling beginning Sept. 30.
"Impressions from the Faroe Islands" is a collection of 10 paintings from the "Journal" series created by Darling following his trip to the Faroe Islands, a mountainous archipelago in the North Atlantic, in May 2019.
The exhibition opens to the public at 11 a.m. at the gallery, located at 263 Depot St. in Manchester.
At 5 p.m. Wednesday, Darling will be a guest on "Eg. Live" on Facebook Live @ellenbogengallery. He will share verbal impressions from the Faroe Islands and highlights from his creative process, perform a reading of one of his related essays and answer questions posted to the live feed from viewers.
Darling lives in Bennington with his wife and cats. He worked for the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare for 30 years before retiring in 2004. He holds a Bachelor of Science in general studies from Clarion University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Arts in studio art from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. In the late 1980s and early 1990s he exhibited paintings in more than 70 solo, group, invitational and juried shows. He is the author of five books and has published more than 80 essays, interviews and reviews in publications ranging from newspapers to outdoor magazines to literary journals.
When Darling traveled to the Faroe Islands, he encountered a land and seascape that seemed "like the vocabulary of [his] spirit made manifest in the real world."
Visions of the islands continue to echo through his work, yet the paintings do not attempt to depict any particular place; instead, they speak through the visual vocabulary the islands "laid bare in [his] heart."
A planned return to the archipelago in May of 2020 was put on hold by the pandemic, therefore the artist continues to explore the impressions made during the first trip.
It is an important aspect of Darling's creative process to understand that he has identified as a Buddhist for more than 50 years.
"My most basic sense of spirituality has always been fundamentally linked to the Earth and the sacredness I experience in wild places," Darling said, explaining how a "place" can create its own spiritual "vocabulary" and also see it translated onto paper, through the Journal series and the "Impressions from the Faroe Islands" show.
The framed artworks are 10 inches by 8 inches and 12.5 inches by 7 inches and are rooted in abstraction.
Darling loves the sensory and emotional richness of the interface between abstraction and representation.
"There is much that I see in the living world that touches my heart in the same way and with the same depth and intensity as great art," Darling said. "I love it when a birch root looks like a thigh, a rock like a mountain, or a cloud like an animal — part of the perceptual joy of that resemblance is that it is incomplete. The birch root remains unambiguously a birch root, the cloud self-evidently a cloud. In my paintings, representation is served without illusion — the painting remains resolutely a painting."
When the processes of image and symbol formation parallel the processes of nature (sedimentation, growth, movement, exfoliation, condensation, crystallization, symbiosis, etc.) meaning evolves as a living interactive process rather than as fixed statements or verbally definable concepts.
The paintings are intended to be catalysts rather than propositions. If they can be said to be "about" anything, it would be the porosity and mutability of boundaries — the ceaseless exchange between abstraction and representation, intention and accident, the framing edge and the world beyond it, art and worldly experience, remembrance and immediacy, desire and refusal, exploration and expression.
Precautions for COVID-19 are taken. The safety of visitors, artists and the gallery staff are a top priority. Owners will wear masks and maintain at least a 6-foot distance from guests and request the same from visitors.
The gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday,
More information can be found at www.ellenbogengallery.art, on Facebook and Instagram at ellenbogengallery.