The Art of Jerry Aistrup

Our featured artists:

HALL ONE: Thomas Shields
HALL TWO: Mark W. McGinnis
HALL THREE: Carl Grupp
HALL FOUR: Joel Strasser
HALL FIVE: Eyob Mergia
HALL SIX: Robert Aldern
HALL SEVEN: Jerry Aistrup
HALL EIGHT: Dick Krueger
Coming Soon: Mary Selvig, Richard Bresnahan

Jerry Aistrup

"Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the harmonies, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand that plays, touching one key or another, to cause vibrations in the soul." --Wassily Kandinsky

Santa Monica Bay Rock
(RIGHT: "Santa Monica Bay Rock." Click on image to enlarge.)

For Jerry Aistrup, an accomplished classical pianist as well as a painter, the Kandinsky quotation is particularly apt. Aistrup's landscapes and interiors are sonatas of color, from the deep greens and blues of the Northern European pieces to the warm reds and oranges the American Southwest.

Capitol Reef
(LEFT: "Capitol Reef." Click on image to enlarge.)

Color, Aistrup acknowledges, is the main interest in his paintings. "I'm more interested in color as the subject and composition as the narrative," he says. Form is not absent in his paintings, but he compares it to "an armature to hang color on," as a sculptor uses an armature of wire as a foundation for his clay shapes.

(RIGHT: "Sunset." Click on image to enlarge.)

Aistrup says he chooses the sites of his paintings for mood. "I may know the subject. You may know the subject. I want to paint what I haven't seen before." For him, he says, the reason to paint at all is "the need to respond to an outstanding visual experience -- real or imaginary."

Neva River Dusk
(LEFT: "Neva River, Dusk." Click on image to enlarge.)

Skies dominate the landscapes: In "Neva River, Dusk," two-thirds of the canvas is devoted to the subtle gradations from salmon to mauve in the moist atmosphere. The dark greens of treelines at the bottom of the painting serve to draw the eye deeper into the misty distance. The overall effect is of awe. One sees such phenomena in nature, but seldom captured in art with such reverence.

(RIGHT: "Giverny." Click on image to enlarge.)

The lush greenery of "Giverny" is not necessarily homage to Claude Monet, although a Japanese bridge in the painting is easily recognized as the very one that appears in Monet's impressionistic studies. In Aistrup's treatment, however, the bridge is quite distinct and solid, not disintegrated into shards of light as in Monet. In Aistrup's composition the whole foreground is backlighted, so that both the bridge and the closeup leaves are seen from the shadow side, with the light setting the translucent leaves aglow from behind like Japanese lanterns. The result is a closely observed symphony of green. At last, however, one must note that it was Monet and other impressionists who taught us all to see that form is perceived in reflection, refraction, and translucence, and in Aistrup's paintings, as in Monet's, the effect often moves toward the abstract.

(LEFT: "Last Chance Range." Click on image to enlarge.)

In some cases Aistrup maneuvers form to suggest more forcibly the mood of the site. In his winter view of Death Valley, "Last Chance Range," which if photographed would be a series of parallel planes, Aistrup rakes the foreground up to the right, the middle ground up to the left, the background sky up to the left again, with the zig-zag composition combining with contrasts of color and tone to suggest the vast harshness of the place. This manipulation is in keeping with his personal approach: "There would be some aspect of the image that I would like to enhance, exaggerate, or intensify from the standpoint of color and mood."

(RIGHT: "Interior." Click on image to enlarge.)

In discussing his paintings, Aistrup often interjects his desire to alter certain aspects of what appear to be finished works: to touch up here or there, darken this or that area, even to alter the dimensions of the canvas. In this he is echoing the sentiment often attributed to Picasso (although probably apocryphal):"A work of art is never finished, only abandoned."

(LEFT: "Mystery of Jane." Click on image to enlarge.)

Aistrup is a Sioux Falls native, currently living and working near Los Angeles. ---Ron Robinson, from etc. Magazine .

(RIGHT: "Hildy's Arbor." Click on image to enlarge.)

San Francisco Palette
(LEFT: "San Francisco Palette." Click on image to enlarge.)