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Recent Reviews


2015 Exhibition Reviews.

WISCONSIN GAZETTE by Kat Minerath July 30, 2015 Salon Show Tory Folliard Gallery

Paintings by Terrence Coffman balance on the edge of abstraction. His series View From My Studio Rooftop is a set of compositions structured like landscapes, with a band of sky and clouds often suggested by streaks of blue and white. What really drives the energy in Coffman's work is his interplay of color and forceful brushwork. Sometimes the lingering texture of bristles is apparent, in other passages the traces of a palette knife sliding across the canvas surface are left, dragging through smooth layers of rich hues.

SHEPHERD EXPRESS by Kat Minerath September 1, 2015 Terrence Coffman: Recent Paintings Charles Allis Art Museum

Terrence Coffman studies interesting places: Galway Bay on the coast of western Ireland, South Dakota, even the expansive views of Jefferson County from his studio. From those starting points his canvases take interesting turns as they veer inward, toward an intimate engagement with mark making and color.

The Charles Allis Art Museum is showing about 40 paintings in Recent Works by Terrence Coffman, and though landscape is foundational, these are not postcard images. The artist pulls back from naturalistic representations, save for a few pieces with defined figures, and goes at his work with fervent handling. Abstraction takes over with an expansive vocabulary of often surprising hues.

In 2011, Coffman was artist-in-residence at Burren College of Art in Ballyvaughan, County Clare. His spent time exploring the countryside and the rocky Flaggy Shore region, located about 10 miles away. The rugged coast and mountainous Burren inspired a series of works, a number of which are included in the exhibition. The end results are an expression of place. The wildness of wind and blowing grasses and the rushing sea and misty sky are conveyed through multiple layers of oil and acrylic. They are built up and scraped down, layered by dry strokes of paint, decorated with dollops of pure color, and scratched nearly down to the surface by naked lines. What fuels the interesting nature of these compositions is the hand of the artistthe evidence left by his complex and vigorous treatment.

Careful scrutiny of the canvas surfaces is the best way to absorb this exhibition. The light coatings of mint green in the sky of Flaggy Shore #3 are nearly invisible, but their addition creates a discernible sense of strange light. In pieces initiated by Coffman's travels to South Dakota there is a daringly wild spirit in shocks of electric pink and crimson. Perhaps most experimental is the View from My Studio Rooftop series where the range of brushwork and color delves furthest into the hermetic exploration of painterly technique. These are not pictures about places but representations of the process of painting.

Graeme Reid
Director of Collections & Exhibitions
Museum of Wisconsin Art

How would I describe Terry's paintings? Bold. Fearless. Impressionistic. Abstract. Gestural. Powerful. Large. Lush. Stark. Confusing. Reassuring. Crazy. But no matter what words might be used, the word passionate is always applicable. For Terry, painting isnt something he does in his studio, its a performance born of physical experience. The bold vibrancy of his paintings often begs the question of whether they are finished and of course they are, because each one tells Terry when to stop. But by the same token they are never done because he works in series inspired by such places as Wisconsin County roads, Western Ireland or South Dakota. As separate as these places are, the inspiration drawn from each place bleeds into one another informing, influencing and continually teaching the artist more about each place and himself. It takes confidence and training and years of experience to paint like Terry. We get to take the easy route and simply enjoy the fruits of his labors.