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East meets West in the paintings of Ron Ehrlich, Nov. 10-30 at Bannister Gallery

In 1979 Ron Ehrlich traveled to Japan to study ceramics in a monastery for three months and stayed for three years. The result was a turn to painting and a marriage, as art critic J. Bowyer Bell noted, “of the Eastern technique to the canons of the New York School, the directions of the contemporary and a private vision.”

From Nov. 10-30 Rhode Island College’s Bannister Gallery will present an exhibition of Ehrlich’s paintings, with an opening reception on Nov. 10 from 5-8 p.m. The show is curated by Lisa Russell of the Rhode Island College art faculty in collaboration with Stephen Haller Gallery.

Ron Ehrlich, "Are You Kidding," 2011. Oil on panel. 48 x 48 inches. Image courtesy of Stephen Haller Gallery, NYC.
The technical complexity of Ehrlich’s work – extrapolated from the intricacies of Japanese pottery making – represents an intensification of conventional oil painting, which may even include his use of a blowtorch to fuse multiple layers of oil paint and sand into a fascinating and delightful surface.

According to several critics, the detail in Ehrlich’s surfaces repays multiple viewings. For instance, Bowyer Bell has commented that artist’s creations “can be cherished over and over not just for that singular first impact but because they vibrate every time with the joy of each viewing.” And Dominique Nahas has written, “You literally can get swept away as a viewer in exploring each square millimeter of an Ehrlich surface (or rather surfaces, as he is a master of layering upon layering).”

Ehrlich’s subject matter is elusive and engaging too. Figures emerge from a complex network of aggressive markings and delicate lines, then recede back into abstraction, defying the “reality” of the glimpsed image.

Since 1985, Ehrlich has had more than 30 solo exhibitions and numerous group shows in cities such as Boston, New York, Atlanta and Seattle. In 1999, he was selected for Outward Bound: American Art on the Brink of the 21st Century, which traveled to major venues in China, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Rim. He was also invited to participate in an exhibition of Korean and American painting at the Art Museum of the Sejong Center for Performing Arts in Seoul, Korea, in 2005.

Ehrlich attended Connecticut College; Joji Yamasita, in Bizen Province, Japan; Kansas City Art Institute; and Rhode Island School of Design. He continues to live and work in Rhode Island.

Gallery hours during exhibits are Tuesday through Friday, noon to 8 p.m. Exhibits and events are free and open to the public. Accessible to persons with disabilities. For information on event dates and exhibit opening receptions, check the website at www.ric.edu/Bannister or call (401) 456-9765.