Oil paintings by Tula Telfair, professor of art, will be on display at the Florence Griswold Museum April 24 through June 27. Telfair’s exhibit is titled “Landscapes in Counterpoint.” The Griswold Museum is located at 96 Lyme Street in Old Lyme, Conn.
The exhibition pairs nine new monumental paintings by the artist with her selection of 19th and early 20th-century paintings from the museum’s collection. Telfair’s choices, which include works by Thomas Cole and Frederic E. Church, establish the visual foundation for, as well as a counterpoint to, her own large-scale landscapes-paintings that are informed by both tradition and imagination.
“We’re thrilled that the artist is creating new work for this exhibition that is contemporary and yet also in dialogue with the long history of landscape painting,” says Amy Kurtz Lansing, curator of the Florence Griswold Museum.
Telfair’s poetic landscapes, some over 9 by 6 feet, seem strangely familiar, their grandeur recalling the picturesque panoramas captured in the nineteenth century by artists of the Hudson River School. Yet unlike painters who record what they see in front of them, Telfair composes her romantic scenes from memory, drawing partially upon the vistas of her youth in West Africa. Telfair often positions the viewer above or at a distance from the landscapes, leaving tantalizingly indistinct details like roads or houses that might acknowledge a human presence in the scenes. An appreciation for the history of art also permeates Telfair’s work. Her embrace of ideal landscapes recalls the painters of the Renaissance, as does her use of glazes to impart translucence to her paintings.
Her work also will be shown at the American Embassy in Colombo, Sri Lanka in 2010.