Jan. 6, 2003 – St. Thomas painter David Hill has a return engagement as the new year's first featured artist at Bella Blu. His new exhibition of oils and etchings, titled "Dave's Waves," opens with a champagne reception on Friday from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Frenchtown restaurant.
It was just a year ago that Hill held his first-ever solo show — in the same St. Thomas locale, then known at Alexander's Café (see the St. Thomas Source report"Alexander's show a 'Study in Energy and Light'".)
Hill, a native St. Thomian studying at the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University, is taking advantage of winter break to visit family and friends, connect with collectors and show what he presents as "an ambitious body of work, something attractive but meaningful, conceptual."
His palette is a meeting place of representational and abstract imagery. The showpiece of the Bella Blu exhibition is work in oil 6 feet square that he calls "Near and Far." The piece consists of 25 separately painted panels, each depicting a body of water, that come together to form a compelling image of water and waves.
According to the artist, his objective was to "look at water in a representational way and paint it realistically, but at the same time explore abstract concepts by distorting perspective through the use of color, pattern and space. I wanted to relate to what a wave actually does in real life — but use my imagination to express the concept."
The show also includes a series of etchings that are small, intimate portraits again exploring the confluence of realism and the abstract. Some of these pieces "are quiet and delicate, reflecting the careful way Hill handled the etching plate and what he saw in his subject," Claire Ochoa, coordinator of the monthly Bella Blu shows, says. "Other subjects are bold, daring and straightforward — also indicative of how he handled the plate — aggressively, with confidence almost as if it were sculpture."
Hill says he has sought in these pieces to "capture something about the person and use the way the piece was made to express that aspect." The options in technique and the immediacy of the etching medium contrast vividly with the precise planning and execution required for his "Near and Far" oil painting.
Hill, now 27, spent last summer teaching high school students at the not-for-profit School of Visual Arts and Careers at the Fort Christian Museum — where he was a student in his teen years. He credits his participation in the program with sparking his interest in art — and his belief that he could pursue it as a profession.
The public is invited to meet the artist and view his work at Friday's reception, from 5 to 7 p.m. The show will hang through Feb. 13. For more information, contact Ochoa by e-mailing to Gallery St. Thomas or calling 777-6363.
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