GREG MORT AMERICAN ARTIST by Cynthia P. Schneider United States Ambassador to the Netherlands Professor of Fine Arts, Georgetown University Author of Rembrandt’s Landscapes Rembrandt’s Landscapes: Drawings and Prints |
“The paint for all the paintings I have ever done probably could fit into a thimble.”
Perhaps that is an exaggeration, concedes Greg Mort, but only a slight one. Difficult as it is to believe, his shiny apples, starched linens, and starry skies were created with mere whispers of color. Greg Mort is able to achieve such dazzling effects because he understands how to push the medium of watercolor to its limits. In contrast to the wet-on-wet drawings of his American predecessors such as Winslow Homer or John Singer Sargent, Greg Mort creates his watercolors the way the old masters painted with oil: He applies layer upon Layer, allowing each to dry before adding the next. The enables him to create the multitude of half-tones that work so effectively to suggest shadows in the still lifes and distance in the landscapes.
At first glance Greg Mort’s paintings astonish with their realism, but a closer look reveals the extent to which the artist’s imagination has shared his work. Although his apples look so real they tempt one to take a bite, the most striking aspect of a Mort still life is its original. One might even say quirky, composition. With his unexpected combinations of materials, Mort transforms the everyday. Like earlier still life masters such as Chardin, he is able to make something out of nothing.
Greg Mort’s still lifes appear deceptively simple. The selection of materials and their arrangement require hours of planning and construction. Once he begins to paint, Mort does not feel compelled to depict the arrangement precisely. On occasion, he might paint the objects as he sees them, and then add a totally imaginary backdrop. In the tradition of the Dutch masters of the seventeenth century, Mort creates a mirror of nature that enhances and reshapes it.
Mort’s landscapes also are marked by a combination of description and imagination. They evoke the coast and waterways of Maine that Mort knows so well, but, as so the still lifes, the landscapes invariably surprise us with some unusual composition or juxtaposition. For example, only after studying Pool of Stars for a few moments does one realize that the picture is not upside down, and that the main subjects are actually reflects in the water.
Mort’s landscapes and still lifes are painted with the care and the skill of an old master, and yet, they look unmistakably contemporary. The modern quality of his paintings may stem from their eccentric compositions, their clear sharp colors, or their singular combinations of imaginations and description. Mort likely, the qualities that make Greg Mort’s paintings distinctive, like the works themselves elude precise definition. by Cynthia P. Schneider United States Ambassador to the Netherlands Professor of Fine Arts, Georgetown University Author of Rembrandt’s Landscapes Rembrandt’s Landscapes: Drawings and Prints GREG MORT American Artist
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