12/21/14 a context for my parade series: genre painting / by Philip Tarlow

what do these 3 paintings have in common? 

on the right the fishmonger, by van ostade, 1660-70; in the center a detail from parade 8, 20014-based on photos i shot of visitors at MOMA; part of my parade series and on the left, o kyrios skouloudis, 1979, which i painted in andros, greece.

genre painting is loosely defined as paintings of ordinary people in their everyday lives. it generally refers to the so called golden age of painting in the netherlands. strictly speaking, it involves figures to whom no identity can be attached, which is not true of my painting of kyrios skouloudis on the left. the title means mr. skouloudis in greek, and refers to the figure in the doorway of his shop on the main street of chora, andros. nonetheless, these are all paintings of figures of ordinary people engaged in ordinary, everyday activities.

it occurred to me yesterday that an argument could be made that my parade series, (go to parade series under the works drop down menu at the top of the page)consisting thus far of 17 paintings, all 16x16," are all contemporary examples of genre painting. the latest one, which is still in the drawing phase, shows a group of anonymous people in lone tree mall doing their christmas shopping. it will be based upon the photo on row 2. more about this later....i need to get to work.

3:10pm update: i just now put together one of the 60x60"stretcher bars to compare it in scale to the current 16x16" size i'm using for the parade series.on you can see this graphically displayed on row 2.

below is something i just composed for the sales staff at gremillion & co. fine art in houston, where 11 of my parade series are now located and being presented to clients:

I was drawn to Dutch 17th C. genre painting from an early age. My kindergarden teacher remarked, in her evaluation of me, how I was fascinated by construction workers; a subject that was to become the core of my subject matter years later in Greece. Had my dad not kept the evaluation document, that thread might have escaped me. (see attached photo of an 8 foot wide painting I made, ca. 1974 of myself with some of my models from a construction site near my studio at the time, in the Plaka district of Athens).

In my early 20's I spent many hours in the Met looking at Vermeer, deHooch, Terborgh and others in that school. One of the things that drew me to Greece, fresh out of college, was my intuition that I would find a path for making genre paintings that would be fresh and new; something challenging to do in the Abstract Expressionist and Pop environment of '60's NYC.

Indeed, I found what I was looking for. The Athens School exhibition I am co-curating along with the director of the Hellenic Museum in Melbourne will tell the story of 4 painters in the Athens of the '60's and '70's whose work had in common a love for the beauty of the ordinary; the everyday. I am honored to be one of the four, in addition to Tsarouchis, Manousakis and my former mother-in-law, Niki Karagatsi. I will be sending a drop box document that contains a slide show with characteristic paintings of these 4 artists, to give you an overview of the period.

My current Parade series combines my love of painting the everyday with my passion, which also dates back to my teenage years, for foreshortening and views from above in general. My recent forays into abstraction have given me the freedom (from content) to discover my compositional, coloristic and spatial tendencies. Emboldened by Gerhard Richter, whose work is so varied yet consistent in it's aesthetic, I dove into abstraction with a gusto that still surprises me. 


There are days when I go straight for my collage materials which, combining with drawing in graphite and painting sections of the piece using acrylics, give me a holiday from representation and a child-like joy that allows me to brings fresh energy to the Parade paintings.