Henry Chodkowski taught painting at the University of Louisville for 37 years (1962-1999), and how many students/artists he influenced in that time is almost literally incalculable.
As an artist, Chodkowski moved from geometric compositions and stark graphic drawings to a particularly evocative landscapes influenced by multiple journeys to Greece. Many artists express a highly developed sense of place for a special location: Van Gogh in Arles and Gauguin in Tahiti are obvious examples, men obsessed with the individual sun and atmosphere they couldn’t seem to find anywhere else.
Chodkowski's fascination with the island of Crete and the Aegean Sea may have also been about the light - the Mediterranean sun is the stuff of legends, after all, but in the paintings we see here, the formal elements of landscape have largely receded into a vigorously executed abstract field of emotional color. While we know that Chodkowski painted from direct observation, the turmoil of stormy weather he captures must also be forging a connection with the deep wealth of history and mythology inherent in that country. The organic relationship between the slate blue and flushed pink in the sky show us the dense and threatening tempest, not the saturating sunlight we find in postcards.
In several pieces, such as “Ouranos Thalassa, 26”, that connection to ancient history is made explicit with impressions of ancient symbols in the paper. Chodkowski looks so far beyond the present-day culture, that the act of artistic creation merges with an intuitive sense of archaeology that borders on the mystical.
“These paintings are charged with the direct experience of actual places where earth, sea and sky are such vessels of new illumination, echoing inner expanses within us. Vast symbols hover almost unnoticed in veiled atmospheres of nascent light, as archetypal bridges to experience beyond history. The places are Aegean sites of the heroic ages, and the labyrinthian symbols speak of early Minoan forms of civilized vitalism.” - Jay Kloner
Hometown: Hartford, Connecticut
Education: Bachelors, University of Hartford, Connecticut; Masters, Yale University, Connecticut
Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2018 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.