Presenting an emotional look into humanity, Larry Greenberg‘s evocative paintings have both a sense of delicacy as well contextual heaviness. “With each brush stroke, the painting “speaks” to me and directs my next move,” says the artist.
From the use of muted colors, washed out textures, lines, and brushwork, a softness contrasts his weighty thematic images. This lends itself to the ethereal quality in his works. The subjects in these paintings are always at risk of disappearing into the background, an effect that emphasizes the struggle against vanishing beneath internal turmoil.
What is your current series about and how did it come to be?
My current series is an extension of my artwork over the years, and I continue to address loneliness and despair just as I have since graduating from college. The paintings in the current exhibition and those that I am presently working on in my studio are an outgrowth of a series of dynamic drawings completed in the last two years addressing the same themes. As a result, I have begun and continue to represent the themes more dynamically through the use of stronger color contrasts and structural elements. This direction is only hinted at by my work in the exhibition, but much more so by my recently completed paintings in my studio.
There is an obvious presence of emotional content in your works, but you seldom give them any defining titles. Why is that?
Titles, to me, are a bit of a gimmicky way of trying to arouse interest and understanding. They can be distractive and cause the viewer to look for something that isn’t there. This can easily lead to misinterpreting or misunderstanding what an artist is really “saying.” Simply stated, I want my paintings to speak for themselves especially since each member of the audience has a different set of experiences which affect how a painting is viewed and understood.
However, there is also a second reason I don’t give titles to my work. I want my audience to see past the emotion. I want the audience to experience the artistic qualities of my work: color harmonies, structure, movement, and so on. A title could prevent the viewer from seeing the “whole” painting and only focus on the theme. This philosophy is akin to the philosophy “art for art’s sake” and grows out of my studies with Harry Holtzman ( a close friend of Mondrian and executor of his estate), Phillip Pearlstein, Jimmy Ernst, and Carl Holty.
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When did you develop your current technique and style of creating art?
It grew slowly at first beginning after graduating from college. After my “Cezanne” and Cubist phases, my drawings and paintings became increasingly “dark”: showing tortured figures truly alone in their environments. I was encouraged to continue in this line with the success of several gallery shows. Over the years, I have continually refined my vocabulary and techniques, and I am still doing so at the present. For me, it is a nonstop process.
What is your creative process like? Is the play with anatomy in your works a calculated decision or a primarily intuitive one?
My process is two-fold. I begin with a preconceived idea which includes calculating how I will use anatomy, but once I start painting, a more expressionistic “sense” takes over. It is here I manipulate the various elements of the painting as I am “guided” by it. This process continues until the painting is completed to my satisfaction. In essence, I start with very carefully made decisions about what I will be painting, but then I move to the more intuitive as I am working. Every painting and drawing of mine follows this process.
What do you want to convey to your audience?
I want the audience to see, sense, feel, and relate to the strong emotions in my work, AND I want the audience to see and appreciate my works’ abstract qualities such as the color harmonies, the structure, and the movement and interplay of the shapes and lines. In other words, I want them to see and appreciate the whole painting.
Your first solo exhibition was also in New York in 1973. Would you say there is a significant difference in terms of the involvement of the gallery staff, between then and now?
The Avanti Gallery was a small gallery in New York City at the time. It had two exhibition spaces: one was for a three-person show, and the other was for solo shows both of which occurred concurrently. There was publicity in the newspapers before the exhibition. During the exhibition, there was a constant audience that was serviced with drinks and snacks. There were at least three people involved in the servicing of the audience: the co-owners and an employee. There were no interviews by the gallery, but there were reviews in the local papers. Comparing the two, it is easy to see that Agora Gallery has far more involvement before, during, and after the opening reception. There really is no comparison.
Collecting art is a highly involving and emotional experience. The artist’s process and intention are some of the factors that make one fall in love with his or her piece. Learn more about our artists’ creative methods and fascinating techniques in the Center Stage and Artist Techniques categories.