Headwinds on Windigoostigwan
November 5 – December 22, 2022
Alexandre is pleased to present an exhibition of new work by the artist Tom Uttech (American, b. 1942), on view from November 5 — December 22. The show will include twenty-one new paintings and be accompanied by an illustrated catalogue with an essay by Pulitzer Prize winning author N. Scott Momaday, and a selection of new poetry written in response to the work by former Wisconsin poet laureate Kimberly Blaeser.
Uttech’s small and large-scale landscape paintings depict the remote wilderness of the Precambrian Shield—a vast expanse of land that spreads across southern Canada, Minnesota, and his native Wisconsin. Uttech renders woodlands, lakes, swamps, and rivers with a magical realist precision that illuminates the majesty of this precious landscape, part of the ancestral lands of the Ojibway people. Wildlife is also abundant, as Momaday writes in his essay, “A given painting . . . seems a concentration of nature itself. It teems with life, a sky full of birds, a foreground crowded with animals . . . ” Presented in Uttech’s own hand-made and painted frames, the works carry a luminosity and detail that invokes medieval altar pieces.
Almost all works are set “in the crepuscular light of dawn and dusk.” Uttech writes: “When I am there at this time of day and with a clean and empty mind a door opens for me to enter a state of tranquil ecstasy.” This is an emotional state he seeks to entreat in the viewer as well.
In this way the work of Tom Uttech vividly draws viewers into the untouched wilderness of the Northern United States, while conjuring from this environment an emotional exchange that is vital to the human experience and from which we are often removed.
The resulting paintings, created in the studio after long periods of study in the environment surrounding Uttech’s home in Wisconsin, are less-so depictions of specific locations than an imagined summoning of the experience of extended communion with the natural world.
On the occasion of Uttech’s 2004 retrospective at the Milwaukee Art Museum the noted art historian and critic Lucy R. Lippard wrote:
Behind every one of Uttech’s haunting and clearly contemporary images lies a hard-fought battle to be true to nature, to be as real as possible, and then to transcend reality, to reach another plane that communicates his feelings for the great mysteries of the northern wilderness, mysteries that remain unspoken but can be painted.
Born in Merrill, Wisconsin in 1942, Tom Uttech earned a BA at the Layton School of Art in Milwaukee in 1965 and an MFA at the University of Cincinnati in 1967. After completing his studies, he worked as a professor of art at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee until 1998. Since the inclusion of his paintings in the 1975 Whitney Biennial, Uttech’s work has been the subject of over forty one-person exhibitions. His work is in the collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum (Washington, DC), Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (Bentonville, AR), Milwaukee Art Museum (Milwaukee, WI), and New Orleans Museum of Art (New Orleans, LA), among others. Uttech has been represented by Alexandre Gallery since 2003. This show is his ninth with the gallery.