Alan Goldstein, Upriver from Lumberville Walking Bridge II, ca.1981, oil on canvas, James A. Michener Art Museum, purchased with funds provided by Anne and Joseph Gardocki.
Alan Goldstein is an abstract painter who works predominantly with paint, ink and mixed media. He has experimented with diverse media, including tar, rope, steel, and fabric.
Goldstein started his formal schooling by studying architecture, the art or practice of designing and constructing buildings. Do you see anything in Upriver from Lumberville that reminds you of architecture?
Architecture continues to inspire the things Goldstein includes in his work. After looking at this painting, look at some photographs taken of local Bucks County buildings. Better yet, travel around the county. Do you see any elements in the buildings that look like they could be part of Goldstein’s painting?
In addition, the natural beauty of Bucks County inspires Goldstein. He enjoys traveling around the countryside finding views of hills, rivers, stonewalls, meadows and forests that interest him. Sometimes he sketches his ideas, sometimes he photographs them, and sometimes he simply remembers the images for a future work of art. When Goldstein photographs his work, he often combines different photographs in a collage. He then uses the collage as a basis for his paintings, a technique used in Upriver from Lumberville. He finds patterns in the repetition of roads, rivers and trees. His colors come from nature, though like any artist he changes the colors in order to have a successful composition. Look carefully at Upriver from Lumberville. What in nature can you find in this painting? How is this painting a landscape?
Goldstein is also interested in nature’s underlying processes and how the figure relates to the human psyche. In working with the figure, he doesn’t like to hire professional models – he likes to work with friends and people he meets because he feels their movements and ideas are more fresh and spontaneous. Working from the human figure – whether you are working realistically or not, is also a way to use nature in your art.
In an exhibition in 2008, entitled Shifting Ground, Goldstein explained his philosophy and background of his work:
I am inspired by nature and its underlying processes where I find meaning and a connectedness to the world through observation and contemplation of the cycles of life; growth and deterioration; fusion and dissolution. I embrace asymmetry, randomness and chance as aspects of nature’s creative procedures. My work is concerned with the nature of nature, it plumbs for the origin of things. The nature I seek is in the microcosm not in grand vistas or perfect picture settings.
Throughout my working life, Asian art, culture and philosophy have balanced and battled my western perceptions and training. The spirit of Zen has enlightened and directed my art. My forms are organic, the result is abstraction.
Landscape is the object of these reveries, but the subject is elsewhere-wrapped in metaphor and hidden within each viewer. I work until each piece has an inner life, rhythm and some indefinable magic.