Sylvan Gallery in Wiscasset is featuring more than 40 oil paintings by the late New York artist Charles Kolnik from Aug. 1 through Sept. 29 in the show “Remembering Artist Charles Kolnik (1951-2020).”
The exhibition features a wide range of his favorite subjects, including landscapes, seascapes, figurative works and still lifes. The exhibition will be across the street from Sylvan Gallery, at the Sylvan Gallery Annex, located at 52 Water Street in Wiscasset.
Kolnik was a fine artist for almost 50 years. Sylvan Gallery represented him for only nine of those years.
Seeing a painting by one of the great masters of art is often what originally inspires someone to learn to paint. For Kolnik, the inspiration came from seeing a reproduction of a portrait by Rembrandt. He subsequently read everything he could on the techniques of the old masters, specifically on Titian’s, who was a major inspiration of Rembrandt’s. Kolnik had an appreciation for the Barbizon and Hudson River School painters as well and listened to his favorite classical composers while he painted, which put him in a mood or emotional state that had a direct influence on his paintings.
Kolnik’s style is identifiably his own. Using a limited palette of colors, transparent glazes and thick opacities, he conveyed simple motifs: a lone fisherman, an egret in the marsh, a pair of swans, a figure in a field, a blue rooster, a stormy sea, dilapidated piers, a wrapped sail, the surf. Once he had a motif that he loved, he would often paint many different versions of it. There is a “meditative” and “timeless” quality to his work which earned him many collectors over the years.
Kolnik had the unique experience of having one of his paintings inspire a ballet. He was honored and awestruck when he was notified that a painting that he had created of angels, which had turned up at a New York City flea market, inspired “Les Jeux Des Anges” (The Angel Games), choreographed by Virginie Mecene and performed by the Martha Graham Ensemble at Theresa Lang Theatre in New York City.
It’s interesting that Charles’ signature has been the cause of so many comments by gallery-goers, most of whom love it. To Kolnik, his signature and the placement of it compositionally was an important part of the painting. He explained that it was always red as a tribute to Corot, who had perfect placement of red within a painting. Charles loved Japanese artwork, so he created his signature to look like a Japanese stamp, a simplified “K,” which often was mistaken for a cross.
His paintings won awards whenever they were competitively exhibited. They have been sold by galleries in Boston, New York, Cape Cod, and the Hamptons and were shown as part of a resident artist display at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. And they continue to be exhibited at Sylvan Gallery in Wiscasset
For more information, call Ann Scanlan at 207-882-8290, or go to www.sylvangallery.com. Sylvan Gallery is open from 10:30 a.m to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at 49 Water St., Wiscasset, on the corner of Main Street/Route 1 and Water St., next to Red’s Eats. The Charles Kolnik Exhibition at the Sylvan Gallery Annex will be viewable by first coming to Sylvan Gallery, unless an open sign is on the door.