Arts & Entertainment Editor
The GreenHill Center has recently opened the new exhibit, “The Edge of Perception,” featuring artwork by North Carolina-based artist, Richard Fennell. With a productive and successful artistic career spanning four decades, the exhibit takes you through a tour of Fennell’s evolution as an artist.
Fennell, a multi-medium artist, earned his BFA and MFA from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. After his early days as a student, Fennell worked as a part-time instructor at UNCG in the ‘80s and has risen to fame across North Carolina, with galleries and exhibits found all over the state. His artwork and sculptures can be seen in a few permanent collections including the North Carolina Museum of Art, the Weatherspoon Art Museum and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts in Alabama.
“The Edge of Perception,” opens with Fennell’s early work from the late ‘70s, showcasing various mediums, such as lithograph, engraving, and etching. Much of his work during this time played with space and thin lines, in which his landscapes, portraits and people had equal parts white and black shade. Specifically, in much of Fennel’s early work, you can see fragile crosshatching with fantastic precision in his shading. What stood out most though, was the way Fennell used angles to make his artwork more interesting. Instead of etching people straight-on, he seemed to look at them from the ground at a slightly skewed angle.
Also in the late ‘70s, Fennel perfected a softer, less concrete version of his artwork when he used watercolor. In such pieces, he used pastels that dripped softly into each other as if the porcelain people were only a watermark on paper. “The Edge of Perception” did not have many of Fennel’s watercolor pieces, but the few that were displayed were some of the most outstanding pictures presented.
Most of this exhibit showcased Fennell’s Impressionist-inspired work, with large and visible brushstrokes, as well as varying shades of color. Much of this work Fennell created in the mid ‘80s to present day. Interestingly, Fennell’s work took on more personality with his oil and pastel artwork, though most pictures displayed inanimate objects such as landscapes, fruit displays and household interiors. In the beginning of this period, Fennell mixed his colors into a smooth gradient and used his mastered skill in angles to his advantage. Though his work became less preoccupied with realism, his abstract pieces still held a realistic touch that was fuzzy and dreamlike.
By the early 2000s to present day, Fennell took on different scenery, such as self-portraits, houses and women. In all these later pieces, like “The Oldest House in Hyde County Parts I-IV,” he placed excruciating detail into the way light fell onto the objects.
As the artist was quoted by the GreenHill Center, “My work, as personal as it is, is basically the study of light upon form and space. In pursuit of this study, I try to merge a visual truth of what is seen with basic abstract elements inherent in painting and nature.”
Fennell’s most recent work displayed at the GreenHill Center is highly abstract, without any blending of colors, just strokes of paint still depicting all his past and favorite sceneries.
Interestingly, and unlike many artists, it is easy to tell which kind of medium Fennell used in his artwork. He has been known to never mix colors, but use the colors straight from the containers.
“The Edge of Perception,” reveals a strong evolution of one North Carolinian artist. With beautiful technique and knowledge of color theory, Fennell’s work should not be missed. Take the time to see a Renaissance man of many artistic mediums at the GreenHill Center – this free exhibit will continue to be on display until August 20, 2017.