Greg Mort 20th Anniversary Celebration by Victoria L. Manning ~ Somerville Manning Gallery
Spanning twenty years, the relationship between the Somerville Manning Gallery and artist Greg Mort is truly a special one. When we first met, the gallery was still in its original location, smaller and less beautiful then the 1814 historic mill on the Brandywine River that we are fortunate to be in now. Greg and Nadine’s twins – who are now college seniors – were newborns. From the beginning, Greg’s shows at Somerville Manning were extremely successful. Now, I have the honor of seeing those early works being generously donated to prestigious museum collections.
Highlights of those years include the acquisition of his painting, -Stewardship- for the White House collection, and Mort meeting the late Carl Sagan who asked to use his image -Fabric of Space- for his new book, The Blue Dot. More successes followed as The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, and The Corcoran Museum of Art added -Year of the Comet- and -Dreams-, respectively to their permanent collections. Then, in 1996, the Mort family lived in Italy and Greg was commissioned by the University of Padova to create -The Three Galileo’s- as a gift for Pope Paul.
These past two decades are but an infinitesimal moment in the cosmos that Mort brings to our conscientiousness through his paintings. His close examination of his subjects, and superior technical ability, create trompe l’oeil still life paintings as perfected as Harnet. His scientific mind seems to examine his subject through a microscope down to the atoms, whether it is a piece of fruit on lace, or a landscape. Then he turns his telescope toward space challenging our minds to expand and encompass the solar systems and galaxies beyond. The light, which illuminates his objects and landscapes, defines the shapes, colors, shadows and details, and so ultimately the paintings, is the same light that travels through the blackness of space emanating from the distant stars.
Mort’s thoughtful selection and arrangement for the compositions of his still life paintings speaks clearly to the viewer. He often chooses the beautiful forms and colors of seashells, rocks, fossils. Are they not representatives of time travelers through our geographic history, and components of the land and seascapes portrayed in an artist’s vision? The light, energy, and gravity – forces from the universe – are what shape and form our natural world around us. The stark blackness in a Mort background is visually beautiful, but doesn’t it subtlety remind us of infinite space? Isn’t a seascape a beautiful reminder of the tides? After Mort urges us to ponder these universal concepts, he brings us back to Earth to our emotional reality with a romantic ribbon wrapped around a luscious fruit, or winding through his painting.
Time, Space, Light, Shadow, Color all connect in Mort’s vision imaginatively, and expertly, on canvas and paper. He transforms the universe into a painted surface with beauty time and time again. Twenty years seems so short and yet it has been so full. by Victoria L. Manning ~ Somerville Manning Gallery GregMort 20th Anniversary at the Somerville Manning Gallery