Middleman's vision of landscape

At Grimaldis Gallery, a break from tradition

Arts: museums, literature

April 10, 2003|By Glenn McNatt | Glenn McNatt,SUN ART CRITIC

For more than 30 years, painter Raoul Middleman has been one of Baltimore's most prolific and readily identifiable artists. Middleman checks in again this season with a delectable exhibit of landscape paintings at C. Grimaldis Gallery through May 3.

Middleman's work is a refreshing break from the by now ubiquitous blue landscapes that have dominated decorative paintings of Maryland and similarly picturesque locales for decades.

Instead, Middleman renders these scenes afresh with great warmth and affection through calculated use of reds, oranges and yellows that complement the cool hues of sky, water and greenery. Add to that his signature quicksilver brushstrokes and muscular sense of design, and one feels the presence of an art that is as vigorous and robust as its subject.

Most of the works here, executed in Middleman's characteristic expressionist style, portray scenes in rural Harford County and along the banks of the Susquehanna River. In all of them, Middleman proves himself a master of unforced naturalism coupled with a canny selection of perspectives that makes every vantage point seem all but inevitable.

The gallery is at 532 N. Charles St. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday by appointment. Call 410-539-1080.

For art and literature events, see page 38.

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