Opening Reception of Matthew Zappala’s solo show, “After the Shot in the Wheatfield,” Poetically Portrays Van Gogh’s Unravelling

Greene County Council on the Arts

Sep. 13, 2014, 05:00 am

398 Main Street

“After the Shot in the Wheatfield,” Matthew Zappala Solo Show. September 6th through October 4th, 2014. Opening Reception, Saturday September 13th, 5-7pm in conjunction with Catskill’s Second Saturday Stroll. GCCA Catskill Gallery, 398 Main Street, Catskill, NY. Gallery Hours: M-F 10-5, Sat. 12-5. FREE.

Matthew Zappala’s exhibition, After the Shot in the Wheatfield, is at once an homage to Vincent Van Gogh, an exploration of escape and a generous offering of absurdly affordable fine art. The paintings depict blue-black crows scattering after Van Gogh was fatally wounded. Zappala’s brushstrokes render such movement and energy that one can imagine the birds squawking, careening and tearing through golden landscapes and turquoise skies: backgrounds that are painted occasionally in Van Gogh’s signature repeating patterns.

The works directly reference the Van Gogh’s final painting, “Wheatfield with Crows,” which he created two weeks before his death. There is still debate about whether he committed suicide or was murdered. Zappala calls the viewers to that moment, to the devotion of an artist who wrestled with his craft and his inner world visually and in detailed letters to his brother, Leo, his biggest supporter.

In the paintings, the hour of the scene keeps shifting: some of the crows flee at high noon, others at sunset. Does the scene keep repeating itself, or are the crows still fleeing, field after field, away from the site? The energy of escape and the gesture of crows across the sky mimics the ordered chaos and obsession in Van Gogh’s paintings. What does it mean to be a witness, to be an artist, focused infinitely on the same subject matter for a period of years, and eventually, an entire lifetime?

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