Opening Reception: Thursday, September 13, 6-8 pm
Fleisher/Ollman is pleased to announce a solo exhibition of the paintings of David Byrd (b. 1926, Springfield, IL; d. 2013, Oxford, NY). Byrd worked in obscurity, mainly in upstate New York, and was active from the late 1940s until his death in 2013. Byrd was a keen observer of the human condition and his rural environment, painting genre scenes and landscapes in a style that channels Giorgio Morandi and Amédée Ozenfant by way of Paul Cadmus, with occasional nods to Giorgio de Chirico and Balthus. His melancholy take on humanity focused chiefly on the denizens of Sidney Center, NY, where he lived during the last two decades of his life. His subjects include auctioneers and attendees at country auctions, shoppers at food markets, patrons at laundromats and gas stations, and the patients at the Veterans’ Administration Medical Hospital in Montrose, NY, where he worked as an orderly from 1958–1988, all realized with thinned oil paint utilizing a dry-brush technique. Many of the paintings blend the real and the fantastical in unsettling ways that transcend the everyday sensibility that the works initially suggest. The VA hospital paintings catalog human despair in a direct style filtered through Byrd’s signature, surrealistically strange touch.
Byrd had two solo exhibitions during his lifetime (Maywood Arts, Sidney Center, NY, 2012; and Greg Kucera Gallery, Seattle, WA, 2013), which were facilitated through his late friendship with an artist and neighbor, Jody Isaacson. Since Byrd’s death, the David Byrd Estate has organized solo exhibitions, and participated in group exhibitions, across the United States. Patient Pondering is Byrd’s first exhibition in Philadelphia.