In my work, I attempt to capture both the universal nature of things, if such a thing even exists or is capturable, and the pedestrian. And, as a corollary, I try to convey to the viewer the drama or punch needed in a painting, which, in the case of my work, paradoxically, is oftentimes revealed over time, by first getting through the mundane. Further, my work has been influenced by photography, especially the line of photographers from Atget to Evans and then Eggleston. Their work instructed me, especially the insistence on no nonsense, constant editing and stripping down, and a powerful kind of ‘objective’ presentation and viewing, all of which I hope can also be found in my paintings. As such, I constantly squeeze out color and reduce line, but only to a point. More generally, the work also relies on certain underpinnings involving the narrative/non-narrative tension, the abstract/representation tension, and the tension between two-dimensionality and the illusion of three-dimensionality. And, although much more could be said, my work can be judged successful if my paintings manage to convey some sense of light.
Broadly speaking, my paintings thematically fall within two groups. The ‚Äòwritings‚Äô paintings are comprised of ‘made up’ German words (‘German gibberish’). My family lived in Germany for generations before being uprooted by the Nazis. Growing up in the United States, I didn’t learn German, but I heard it spoken and find the writing of German, or ‘German gibberish’, natural. The second series uses the grid convention and the stripe and are monochromatic based. The grid is tightly constructed which can allude to tile, and the stripe can allude to window blinds, creating an interplay between abstraction and representation.
Howard Silberthau received his undergraduate degree from Vassar College, with a minor in art, and a law degree from New York University School of Law. He later continued to study at New York’s Art Student’s League and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. He practiced corporate law in New York and Boston before turning to painting full time.
He has had several solo shows and participated in numerous group shows.
Images copyright © Howard Silberthau
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