Whit Conrad lives in Manhattan and works out of a studio in Long Island City. He is a graduate of the New York Studio School in painting. His work has been shown at various public venues in New York City and Bedford, NY and solo shows in Portland, Maine (2014) and at Gallery Sensei in New York City (2014). He is a trustee of the Vermont Studio Center where he was board chair for 7 years. Previously a lawyer in NYC, he has degrees from Yale and Harvard Law School.
I try to capture the poetry and mystery in what I see. My paintings are all conceived by an image that strikes me as powerful or interesting in one sense or another. The image triggers an inquiry—often emotional, often playful—into elements of form, color, and narrative. I normally begin with the visual world: a pictorial idea. This can be something I have seen and perhaps sketched or photographed, or drawn from my collection of family photos, books and newspapers: the richly landscaped archives of memory. Whatever its origin, the image becomes my companion in the journey through my imagination and the demands of the medium. Together we evolve, complicate, suffer, celebrate, transform. Without a map and without direction, we are free to wander recklessly. Eventually, the painting itself takes over as guide, steering us toward some unexpected destination.
As a result, the finished work bears little resemblance to the original visual idea. And while my paintings are not heavily theoretical or conceptualized, they all do share this same unfolding: the landscapes where we end up are quite foreign to the original scenic impulse. Such juxtaposition is of interest to me. My ongoing study of it offers a sometimes insightful, sometimes baffling education into my own art process and practice. Imagination plays a larger role than perception. Natural elements and geographic features – trees, water, clouds, sky – often become active forces in the life of the painting, forming mood and sentiment. The characters are often at the mercy of these forces. For me, the act of painting—the act of discovery—leaves me feeling similarly. It can be emotional and cathartic. The paintings themselves, as artifacts of this catharsis, become like specimens in a sort of personal, imaginary museum. Whit’s Museum. Welcome. As is the case with all museums, it’s best to wander aimlessly. I hope you enjoy your visit.