Reverse Paintings on Glass by Former V.U. Staffer
Luminous, color rich, reverse images on glass comprise Ward Van Haute's one-person exhibit, 'Prism of Life', opening Thursday, April 30, at the Villanova University Art Gallery.
The campus community is invited to attend a free reception on Friday, May 8, from 5 to 7 pm, to meet the self-taught Bethlehem, PA, artist and former properties master for the University Theater Department. The event will take place in the Art Gallery, 2ndfloor, Connelly Center. Refreshments will be served. The exhibit continues to June 8.
Being watched might be one sense a viewer gets stepping into Van Haute's exhibit. Eyes, lushly colored and richly lashed, both bodied and disembodied, peer out from behind the glass on many of the paintings, which are done on repurposed window panes the artist salvages from a long road sides.
The exhibit comprises more than 30 of Van Haute's most recent figurative paintings, some featuring dashes of abstraction. Carried out on single- and multiple-pane framed windows, the sharply-defined and strikingly colored – some almost psychedelically so – works range from individual portraiture to complex, multi-scene tableau.
In his paintings, Van Haute “focuses on human form in whimsical settings that reflect my cheerful engagement with the world. I'm not dark or off-putting,” says the 36-year-old father of four. While there's whimsy in his treatments, his subject matter isn't always so.
In 'Sunday Drive with Tony', a large eye cast in patriotic red, white, and blue beckons viewers into variegated scenes of youthful protest that hearken to America's Vietnam era. At 4 x 5 feet and comprising 20 individual panes, 'Drive' is the exhibit's largest, and one of its most complex works.
It's difficult to tell what Millie's about in 'Militant Millie and The Peace Grenade'. Her raised, clenched fist and wide footed-stance say 'defiance', while the designer camouflage fatigues with midriff top and wide white belt and matching-color hand grenade, say 'fashion'.
Whimsy plays large in 'Reveille', an image with a dreamlike quality of childhood exuberance going awry. Above a blissfully sleeping mother, an airborne tyke in jump mode is about to use her as a landing pad. Makes one want to shout out “WAKE UP” and ask her where she keeps the Ritalin.
Van Haute has worked as a prop master/set dresser on television and theatrical productions in Philadelphia and New York. His position as properties master for Villanova's Theatre (cq) Department from 2006 to 2013 called upon him to summon up skills ranging from upholsterer and furniture designer to practical lighting and special effects maker...
He learned on his own the difficult art that reverse painting on glass can be. Beginning in the late '90s, he worked nights and weekends for about 10 years before being satisfied enough to exhibit his results. The long road is all made worthwhile by the results: “Oils on the reverse of glass capture ambient light like no other medium and support combination can,” he notes.
The artist holds a bachelor-of-arts degree from De Sales University, Center Valley, PA.
The Villanova University Art Gallery is open weekdays from 9 am into most evenings. For extended and weekend hours, and other information, telephone the Art Gallery at (610) 519-4612. Selected works in the Van Haute exhibit may be previewed on the gallery's website: www.artgallery.villanova.edu.