April 26, 2009

Men of a Certain Age

"When I return with a painting. I have air in my lungs and have traveled a distance."

Robert Sudlow Jan. '09

I would like you to meet an artist whose art and life work has brought joy to the people of Kansas. His work is widely collected and known within the state. Kansas is a place recognized for its sunflowers and unwittingly called flat. The landscapes of Robert Sudlow reveal a spiritual quality which many of that region observe as they watch the clouds roll over the land. His paintings do not rely on the mundane

Mr. Sudlow was born in 1920 in Holton, Kansas. His childhood was spent exploring the outdoors of his small town. His strong interest in art caused him to attend the University of Kansas and be influenced by the artists Albert Bloch and Raymond Eastwood. During his senior year Pearl Harbor occurred and he became a Navy seaplane pilot eventually receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross. During all his life he has painted and drawn. He continued what was to become a long association with the Department of Drawing and Painting at KU. He studied at L'Academie Andre Lhote, Paris and took his wife and daughter with him. He was influenced by the work of Cezanne and Claude Lorraine. Lorraine was an artist immersed in plein aire painting. From 1953-1955 he spent summers studying at the California College of Arts and Crafts. He received his Masters in 1956. Richard Diebenkorn was his favorite CCAC teacher and Sudlow would meet with him at various times in the summer after long bouts of painting on the California coast. The raw rolling landscape around Santa Cruz is one which Sudlow returned to many summers of his long career. If you have seen that quiet landscape with immense skies you can see a relationship between it and parts of eastern Kansas.

I had the pleasure of being Sudlow's student during the '60's. By that time he had garnered many exhibitions and awards around the midwest area. I was little aware of that but I did know, he was my favorite painting teacher. He didn't impose, he let you discover and would come around with quiet guidance. On reflection his teaching style was very nurturing and empowering.

After I left KU his work became less studio based and more on site based paintings. He enjoys most working in the cooler months of the year although I am fortunate to have a painting which clearly was painted in late summer or early spring.
His style is loose and painterly he works frequently on Cadillac Cover paper a paper introduced to him by William Burroughs. He enjoys the immediacy of the paper and says it is akin to "skating on ice". His surface is thin and the marks he makes show an urgencey yet deftness.

" If you're cautious and hesitant, the paint will reveal it. But if you let it fly, things happen. Out there I want to lose my sense of ego. want to submerge myself in the color, the temperature, the time, the smells, the tactile sensations, the sounds. If it works, the painting is an amalgam of all that experience. You don't paint a scene;you paint a process." -Robert Sudlow, 1988*(quote from-'Spiritual Journeys, The Art of Robert Sudlow",2002)

These are two lithographs done on site.-

Wes Jackson, President of the Land Institute, Salina, Kansas, noted of Sudlow " his passion was to respond to the reflected light of the region with form as a secodary reality . And that was the key"

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