November 11, 2012

Art Review: Tom Hall at June Fitzpatrick: Powerful, powerful stuff


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“Bigelow II” by Tom Hall

Courtesy photos

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Hall's diptych “Greenville II”

Additional Photos Below



WHERE: June Fitzpatrick Gallery, 522 Congress St., Portland

WHEN: Through Dec. 1

HOURS: Noon to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday

INFO: 699-5083;

Many of the trees have a reductive sculptural feel imbued by Hall's painting the white sky between the tree branches as the top layer (think impasto). It's a strange but effective approach -- he excavates his solid forms from a block as though carving with opaque white.

These are simply structured paintings; a tree and a horizon line that differentiates land from sky.

This vague essentialism is why they succeed, but it's also how Hall can use surface textures and glazed layers (he uses many layers of varnish, often stained so they look very old) with simple, strong designs in such a way that the paintings are not only striking and strong, but beautiful.

This compositional strength is apparent in his six very simple and handsome monotypes on handmade paper.

The blue mountains of Hall's "Bigelow" paintings reverentially salute Hartley's plaintive substance and bold solidity.

"Greenville II" is a large diptych subtly similar to its namesake. Dark and overwhelming, I have never seen a more powerfully ambitious painting by a Maine artist.

Deep under the myriad layers of glazed paint and varnish are what look like vinyl letters spelling "ANOTHER" and "CLEARCUT." Grim and even brutal, Hall's voice gurgles up from the abyss not as a knell but as a guttural call to arms.

This exhilarating show makes the case that Tom Hall is one of Maine's best artists. It is the stuff of greatness.

Freelance writer Daniel Kany is an art historian who lives in Cumberland. He can be contacted at:


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Additional Photos

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Tom Hall’s “Hessian Hill”

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Hall’s “West of Spirit”


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