Hurtsboro, oil on linen, 70″ x 120″, 2021
Crowd Scene, oil on linen, 72″ x 132″, 2020
Georgia, oil on linen, 60″ x 80″, 2021
The Thin Veil, oil on linen, 82″ x 100″, 2020
Motherland, oil on linen, 66″ x 48″, 2020
Defender, oil on linen, 60″ x 80″, 2020
Matinicus, oil on linen, 82″ x 100″, 2020
Where Did All That Life Go, oil on linen, 48″ x 82″, 2020
“A good painting is a good question. It is not an answer.” Unlike a Norman Rockwell, my paintings most often are not easily read in one hit. They are multi-leveled and open to interpretation. They have compelling narrative elements but, unlike illustration, they raise more questions in viewers than they answer.
My large-scale oil paintings are visions that exist among the everyday and the extraordinary, elevating the magic of ordinary life. Whether warm, melancholic, or jubilant, they are intended to enrich viewers’ curiosity and allow viewers to look at their life, world, and society differently from before.
With reference to Norman Rockwell and Andrew Wyeth, they are familiar in their American Realist appearance, yet have a curious, modernist twist that transcends time. As Matthew Jeffrey Abrams elaborates in a catalogue essay, “Barlett paints strange, beautiful, disquieting scenes. They are delicate and austere. They also are humorous and bizarre. And nearly all of his new works seem to inhabit a shared world: a sort of nameless, indistinguishable, dreamscape America.”
I invite viewers to engage imaginatively with the works and become acquainted with the cast of my narrative paintings. In Crowd Scene, for example, we are confronted with the arresting glances of a group of characters whose story is not entirely clear but who entices us to enter their dreamlike reality. In Matinicus, the themes recur in real life and play out in the art. I was thinking about Picasso’s fishing paintings from the South of France, American Gothic by Grant Wood, and Watson and the Shark by John Singleton Copley. This is everyday life on an island 24 miles off the coast of Maine: real, rugged, life and death, but the inhabitants gather and help one another and make a festival of these occurrences.
About the Artist
Bo Bartlett, born in 1955 in Columbus, Georgia, received a Certificate of Fine Arts in 1981 from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts; he was awarded a Certificate in Filmmaking from New York University in 1986.
Bo Barlett’s career is distinguished by the number of both solo and group exhibitions of his work. His solo shows have taken place most recently at Miles McEnery Gallery, New York, New York; The Florence Academy of Art, Jersey City, New Jersey; Weber Fine Art, Greenwich, Connecticut; Dowling Walsh Gallery, Rockland, Maine; Orlando Museum of Art, Orlando, Florida; Morris Museum of Art, Augusta, Georgia; and University of Mississippi Museum, Oxford. He has shown work in group exhibitions at Asheville Art Museum, Asheville, North Carolina; Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington; Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, Massachusetts; Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina; and Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, Washington.
Collected country-wide, work by Bo Bartlett can be found in many permanent collections, including those of the Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Curtis Institute, Philadelphia; Asheville Art Museum; Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, Georgia; Carpenter’s Union Hall, Washington, D.C.; Frye Art Museum, Seattle, Washington; La Salle University Museum of Art, Philadelphia; Hunter Museum of Art, Chattanooga, Tennessee; and Denver Museum of Art, Denver, Colorado.
The recipient of an Atelier Focus Fellowship (Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia), Bo Bartlett also has been awarded the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art (Charleston, South Carolina); PEW Fellowship in the Arts (Philadelphia); Philadelphia Museum of Art Award; and Benjamin Lanard Memorial Award, Eleanor S. Gray Prize for Still Life, Thouron Prize, Cecilia Beaux Memorial Portrait Prize, Charles Toppan Prize, and Packard Prize (all Philadelphia).
Bo Barlett also has directed a film, Things Don’t Stay Fixed; released on Amazon and other platforms, it is related to his current body of work. (See the link to Felicia Feaster’s article below.) His documentary Snow Hill, narrated by actor Stacy Keach, features as its subject the painter Andrew Wyeth.
Bo Bartlett lives and works in Columbus, Georgia, and resides seasonally on Wheaton Island in Maine.
Bo Barlett’s Film Things Don’t Stay Fixed (Trailer)
Felicia Feaster, “Georgia Painter Bo Bartlett Makes His First Feature Film“, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, March 4, 2021
Ken Kurson, “Bo Bartlett Visits the Beach and Finds a Changed Human Race“, Fine Art GLOBE, May 18, 2021