Phyllis Mills Wyeth: A Celebration at the Brandywine River Museum is a personal memorial to a long and close relationship. The paintings in this show demonstrate Jamie Wyeth’s command of portraiture, be it human, canine, equine or fowl, as well as his dexterity with paint.
What I find most intriguing about Jamie’s paintings is the amount of information that he can leave out without harming the purpose of the painting. At times he can be so parsimonious with his paint you would think he was a chef holding back on the salt, allowing the ingredients to speak for themselves. However, as Stealing Holly from the Irénées proves, if he needs the paint he is not afraid to use it.
Editing to clarify is not just the preserve of the publishing industry. It has a long history in the visual arts as well – Chinese sumi-e paintings and more recent Japanese wood block prints are good examples. I have always believed their visual editing was the reason for these Asian arts popularity in the West during the late 19th century. They were a refreshment for the senses compared to that period’s academic glitter.
Back to Jamie’s portraits; spend some with them. Thirty minutes to an hour out of your year won’t be missed but the gain will be lasting. Don’t just look at them, look into them.
Stealing Holly from the Irénées