There is nothing more striking in an art exhibition than being welcomed by a series of vibrant colors, painted in such an organic manner that it makes one’s eyes move fluidly across each piece. Upon walking into the Walsh Gallery at the Regina A. Quick Center of the Arts, one can find a flood of oil paintings, watercolor paintings and compressed charcoal drawings by the artist Richard Lytle in his exhibition, “A Retrospective.” Opening the exhibition on Thursday, Sept. 14, the Walsh Art Gallery welcomed a variety of people including first-year students searching for an “inspire” FYE credit, students fulfilling a requirement for their art course, enthusiastic art students and the general public who flocked to Fairfield to see the beautiful display of Lytle’s work.
Though it may be shocking to some, this is not the first time the Fairfield community has enjoyed Lytle’s work on campus. In 1965, Lytle received commission to design the bas-relief sculptures on the exterior of the Barone Campus Center — the sculptures may now be seen both inside and outside of the newly constructed Tully Dining Commons. According to the Fairfield Museum website, presenting Lytle’s exhibition was organized as part of Fairfield’s 75th anniversary celebration and acts as an observance of the long-lasting relationship between Lytle and the Fairfield community. The exhibition even includes some of Lytle’s original drawings for the bas-relief sculptures for the Barone Campus Center.
“A lot of my work here is based off of the observation of very tiny, little seed pods. I use a magnifying glass with a lamp on it, look through that at the seed pods and then I draw what I observe. After that I would base my paintings off of the drawings,” said Lytle.
Upon entering the exhibition, one can’t help but notice a large 66 x 72 inch oil painting with different striking shades of blue entitled, “Blue Cluster.” After first looking at this piece, audience’s eyes are drawn to the other large oil paintings throughout the exhibition. Some have natural colors that echo those found in plants and other wildlife verdure. When explaining why he chose the colors he used for different pieces, he said that sometimes it’s unexplainable. For the more organic looking pieces, Lytle explained that the natural colors of the plant are what inspires him and he even mixes the exact colors of the plants to use within his piece. However, sometimes he just feels like using a certain color, which is why some of his works end up being vibrant variations of one particular color.
“Some of the colors I choose are based off of what I observe, but many of the colors are based upon the fact that at one moment I had a particular interest in a color and decided to create the rest of the painting with shades of that same color,” said Lytle. “There are notes to play with, and some notes you use over and over again, and sometimes you want to try something different.”
Despite the fact that many students came to view Lytle’s exhibition for their class and not out of choice, there was nothing but positive feedback.
“I really like the variety of all the art that Lytle brought to campus. I like the vibrancy of some of the pieces shown. There’s a good balance between pieces having a lot of colors and some pieces having not a lot of colors,” said Danielle Minieri ‘21.
Students continued to discuss the beauty in Lytle’s color choices. Working with such brightly crafted colors infatuated students who were viewing the exhibition.
“The thing that I like most about the exhibition is the colors that he [Lytle] chose, I think they really pop out,” said Shannon Lavin ‘18. “I also like the abstract quality of his work, it’s really cool because you can see where his inspiration came from, while also interpreting it however you want to.”
The beauty of Lytle’s work stems from the different mediums and techniques he uses throughout all of his pieces. In addition to the vibrant, bold oil paintings — located on both the front and back walls of the exhibition — there are multiple water color works. His water color pieces are very realistic, in contrast to his abstract oil paintings. At an up-close glance, one can see the beauty in his graceful, fluid strokes that come together, overlapping and mixing to form different images such as in his piece, “The Tenants.”
The variety of work that Lytle brought to his exhibition, “A Retrospective,” exposed students to different ways of viewing art and seeing artwork in a positive light.
“This exhibition makes it easy for the younger generation come to and appreciate. I think going to a more sophisticated museum can be overwhelming and sometimes boring, but this has pieces that are easier to look at and appreciate,” said Lauren Kearney ‘19. “This is very colorful and very contemporary. Even though I might not understand exactly what the artist intended to say through each piece, I can still appreciate it.”
“A Retrospective” has works that students of all majors, passions and interests can enjoy. From abstract, to realistic, to everything in between, Lytle invites viewers to enjoy his pieces of varying colors and mediums.
“A Retrospective” will be on display in the Walsh Art Gallery located in the Regina A. Quick Center of the Arts from Sept. 15 to Feb. 3, 2018.