After Ryder – Photographs by Nicholas Whitman

After Ryder

Of all painters, New Bedford’s Albert Pinkham Ryder speaks most directly to me.

Unlike his contemporaries he did not render the material world, which allowed him the freedom to pursue greater truths. Universal truths. To plumb the soul and venture into the darkness, where shapes and tones and forms are subjects. Where meaning is not literal but lays in the imagination of the viewer.

Over the years I sought out Ryder paintings at different museums. If there are in fact only about 106 of them, as Mary Jean Blasdale reports in Artists of New Bedford. I have seen may be a quarter. At the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC there is one on display, The Toilers of the Sea, and five in visible storage. I will spend a day in the galleries, the result being visual exhaustion – museum blindness from sensory overload. Even still, by the time I get to the Ryders, poorly lit, stacked, with glass cabinet doors setting up reflections from the case across the isle, I am still awestruck by the emotional power these objects evoke.

My expressive photography relates to Ryder’s art. It’s basis is the physical world but more as an evocative interpretation rather than a literal one. Subject intersects with intangibles like mood. Symbols speak across cultures and through time.

While I have always embraced a dark pallet, now, with the incredible low light capability of modern equipment I’ve been photographing moonrises. And not only the moonrise but also nocturnes illuminated by the light of the moon.

A group of seascapes along East Beach in Dartmouth, Massachusetts are featured in my show at the New Bedford Whaling Museum that opens March 16, 2018 and runs through Labor Day.

22 pieces pieces are on exhibit adjacent to the Museum’s painting, Albert Pinkham Ryder, Landscape. Oil on Canvas c. 1870.