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The Saginaw Art Museum opened a new show by painter Philip Koch on Friday.  Koch, a native of Upstate New York and a Professor of Fine Art at the Maryland Institute College of Art, is a painter in the realist tradition, but with a substantial twist: he tends the use the most  unnatural of colors in his landscapes.

Ascension (Philip Koch - 2007)

Walking into the main gallery Friday evening, the first thing that I noticed was that viewing these images on line clearly doesn’t do them justice. The room seemed to radiate with a beautiful light from these paintings, a soft glow not unlike the Christmas lights we saw while driving through town.

The effect of Koch’s color choices, which are deliberate and well thought out on his part, elevate what are essentially realist landscape paintings into the realm of the surreal. As he pointed out in his own remarks during the opening reception, these colors do not occur in these combinations in nature. They draw your attention immediately hold it firmly as you consider his arrangement of familiar visual elements in a most unfamiliar setting.

Inland (Philip Koch - 2007)

Koch’s paintings are well-executed and visually striking, and in some instances I found the strongly amplified hues a bit too much for my tastes, favoring as I do a far more muted palate. In that vein, I very much enjoyed the smaller preliminary studies in vine charcoal intermingled among the large and vibrant canvasses.

My favorite among the works displayed, Deep Forest Pool (2011) seemed almost an anomaly among its more colorful counterparts.  In it I see a scene that is comfortingly familiar, something I’ve seen in countless variations in Northern Michigan, reminding me of enjoyable times going back decades.

Deep Forest Pool (Philip Koch - 2011)

Koch’s show runs until February 19th, 2012.

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One Comment

  1. Hey Rick….Thanks for sharing…Yes they are beautiful and the one of the Deep Forest does remind of several places here in TC! I bet they are even better in person…esp with the museum lighting. BTW…can’t remember the last time I was at the Saginaw Art Museum…its on Michigan? I know I used to take JT, when he was a baby…..over 25 years ago.


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