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Work by Chuck Close in Mana Contemporary's 1st Floor Gallery. Photo by Esther Montoro.

Our Own Directions: The Louis K. and Susan P. Meisel Collection, celebrating the work of nearly 40 Photorealist artists, opens this Sunday, September 18th in the Eileen S. Kaminsky Family Foundation Gallery at Mana Contemporary.  As visitors enter the building, they will first see a selection of work by Chuck Close on display in Mana Contemporary’s 1st Floor Gallery before taking the elevators to the sixth floor to view the rest of the exhibition.

Louis K. Meisel wrote of Chuck Close (PHOTOREALISM, 1980): “He is the paradox of this movement.  He is at once the leading exponent of Photo-Realism, one of its best-known and widely recognized painters, and yet not a Photo-Realist at all. Although his work shares an appearance with that of the other Photo-Realists, he has nothing more in common with them.  To be sure, he and his work do meet all the points of my definition, but his interests, concerns, and self-imposed challenges are from a different part of the galaxy.”

Born in Monroe, Washington in 1940, Close received a MFA from Yale in 1964 and exhibited his first solo show in 1970.  His work was exhibited at the MoMA in 1973 and included in the Whitney Biennial in 1979.  In 1988, he suffered from a spinal blood clot which left him partially paralyzed from the neck down .  Unable to move his legs and with limited use of his arms, Close has relied on wheelchair since and has developed new methods of painting with a brush clamped between his teeth or strapped onto his wrist with tape.

Chuck Close creates large-scale portraits based on photographs  translated into grids on his canvasses.  In addition to his iconic self-portraits, Close has portrayed his family and friends, including artists Alex Katz, Phillip Glass and Phyllis Galembo.  His methods of painting within these grids have ranged from dense dots or points of color which render a highly detailed, realist quality to looping, multi-color brushstrokes. These elliptical and ovoid shapes which Close himself likened to “hotdogs” and “donuts” appear as a unified figure when seen from a distance.

Mana Contemporary is honored to present 12 works by one of the world’s leading modern artists, and these remarkable works are on view through January 2012.

Self-portrait by Chuck Close, 2000.