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January 3, 2013

Swope kicks off Year of River with ‘Paradoxical Currents’

TERRE HAUTE — To help kick off  2013 Year Of The River celebrations, the Swope Art Museum presents the quirky, colorful and thought-provoking work of University of Evansville associate professor Ralph Larmann in the exhibition “Paradoxical Currents.” The exhibition, made possible by Baesler’s Market, is on view Jan. 4 through March 23 in the Museum’s Education Gallery.

Images of the river tend to seep into the work of Larmann, who grew up along the Ohio River near Cincinnati and currently lives near the confluence of the Ohio and Wabash rivers in Newburgh.

“Paradoxical Currents” features paintings and works on paper that employ images of the river as a metaphor for change and the passage of time. Larmann uses a mix of realism and exaggeration, of fact and fiction, in a style he calls “visual folklore.” Like folklore his paintings each tell a story in which the real and the fantastic duel in the imagination of the audience. Full of visual symbolism, his riverscapes depict interactions between human and environment that reflect the contradictions of contemporary life. Larmann uses dynamic compositions and high-keyed color in his fictional narratives, which are rendered in a stylized manner reminiscent of the Regionalist work of Grant Wood and Thomas Hart Benton.

In addition to his studio work and his professorial duties, Larmann co-authored “Gateways to Art” (with Debra J. DeWitte and M. Kathryn Shields, Thames & Hudson, 2011) and is the designer/author of two online art tutorials. Visitors to the Swope may recognize his style; his work has been featured several times in the Swope’s Annual Wabash Valley Exhibition.

His painting, “Coalopolis,” which won the Howard E. Wooden Memorial Grand Prize and an Indiana State University Permanent Collection Purchase Award in the Annual Wabash Valley Exhibition of 2011, will be seen again in the Swope’s February exhibition “Rivers to Oceans: Selections from Indiana State University’s Permanent Art Collection.”

“Paradoxical Currents” opens Friday during the museum’s free “First Friday: Year of the River Begins” from 6 to 9 p.m. The artist will discuss his narrative paintings at 7 and 8 p.m.

The Swope is at 25 S. Seventh St. Call 812-238-1676 or visit www.swope.org.

 

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