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Earlier this year, I flew down to Charlotte, NC for two spring exhibitions, “The Wyeths: Three Generations” at the Mint Museum, and “The Wyeth Family” at Jerald Melberg Gallery. Over the last thirty years, Jerald Melberg has shown a dedication to enlivening Charlotte’s Contemporary Art scene by showing premier contemporary artists, as well as representing estates of Modern Masters, such as Romare Bearden and Robert Motherwell. Before introducing me to the best BBQ in Charlotte, we dove into the racks of his gallery. As we pulled out piece after piece from his massive collection, one artist’s works stuck with me the most – the carved and painted wood reliefs of Raul Diaz.
The carved wooden panels by Diaz reminded me of woodcut relief printing blocks. I’ve taken up the practice of woodcut printmaking with the encouragement of my friend John Thompson, Professor of Printmaking at MassArt. It’s tough work. I throw my whole body into carving a little plank of wood, fastidiously avoiding splinters and patiently trying to be consistent with my approach to each stroke of my knife. I find it very therapeutic after a rough day. I’m releasing energy while maintaining a precise focus on the overall composition. I imagine that Raul Diaz must feel a similar exertion as he produces his compositions, which are on a much grander scale than my little 10 x 8 inch wood blocks.


The time and work-intensive process of Diaz’s bas-reliefs reveals an interesting duality: strenuous effort and a cool serenity, both felt in his final composition. Through the woodchips that the artist splinters off, he uncovers a quiet subject matter that is further calmed by a muted paint palette. The static figures among sullen boats create a meditative atmosphere. In these dreamlike depictions, the viewer can reflect on their own life. The paddle-less boats; empty and idle vehicles without a conductor, float on still water. This re-occurring symbol in Diaz’s oeuvre may represent life’s voyage, and the balance between effort and reflection required to move forward. Moments of serenity often follow periods of intensity, exemplified poetically in the artist’s course of creation.


We are excited to open the exhibition of Selected Works by Raul Diaz at Adelson Galleries Boston as we celebrate our 5-year anniversary!

 

Adam Adelson

Director

Adelson Galleries Boston