Included in this show, Uttech’s third with the gallery, are seventeen paintings completed over the past three years. These paintings range in size between the small-scaled (15×18 inches) to the monumental (103×112 inches). In each, the artist depicts the remote verdant North Woods of Quetico Provincial Park and his native Wisconsin in a style of detailed painterly realism that is both observed and highly imagined—Uttech makes extended forays alone into the woods, but creates his work in the studio from memory. Uttech’s world is entirely untouched by human hands. It is richly populated with a multitude of animals and birds that inhabit a heightened, rich and multi-layered landscape often illuminated by dramatic evening or early morning sky. In Uttech’s work the viewer is transported to a visual paradise and a pre-Cambrian world of millions of years ago, and to a world that is now fragile and fleeting.
Lucy Lippard, who wrote for Uttech’s 2004 Milwaukee Art Museum retrospective, says of these new paintings:
Uttech’s commitment to the scrubby natural grandeur and spiritual power of this place is transmitted with extraordinary detail that transcends ordinary experience. The sights come not just one by one, but in multitudes. The deer, bears, wolves, and above all the birds, animate his canvases until they reach a visual intensity. While the birds are usually in flight and we can almost hear their voices, the mammals are emblematic, still and silent.
Uttech’s paintings evoke the infinite diversity of an amazing place like this planet.For nature lovers, naturalists, scientists, and ecological activists – in fact for all of us – they stand for what we have to loose and what we have to fight for.
Tom Uttech was born in 1942 near Wausau, Wisconsin. After completing studies at the Layton School of Art and University of Cincinnati, he was a professor of art at the University of Wisconsin until his resignation in 1998. He has had over 35 one-person exhibitions of his work since it was first exhibited in New York at the 1975 Whitney Biennial.