Los Angeles, California – Forum Gallery presents the exhibition Anthony Mitri: New Work from June 8th through July 21st, 2007. The artist will be present at the opening reception on June 8th from 7-9:00 p.m. The first Forum Gallery exhibition of Anthony Mitri’s work at Forum Gallery includes eighteen charcoal drawings of Paris and New York architecture, landscapes of the French countryside, and subterranean views of the New York subway.
Working exclusively in charcoal, San Diego artist Anthony Mitri has created a body of work as remarkable for its technique as it is poignant in its emotional impact. The drawings are so realistically rendered that they appear, initially, to be black and white photographs. On closer scrutiny one realizes that the infinitely subtle gradation of hues throughout is the result of the meticulous ingenuity of a uniquely skilled hand. By delicately adding as well as removing countless, minute strokes of charcoal the artist has replaced photographic duo-chromatics with his own life-like tonal shading.
Certainly Mitri does begin his artistic process with photography, shooting numerous images of each selected location. These photos work to memorialize the respective places, and serve as guidelines to Mitri’s under-drawings. However, the photos are less about documentation than about aiding the artist to recreate particular moods: pure and personal transitory feelings he has experienced. Each is as elusive as its location is precise. Hence, it is the artist’s own past feelings to which the viewer is made privy – emotions derived from something as abstract as a sound or smell, or as profound as a momentous occurrence affecting his personal life.
The artist approaches architectural complexity as deftly as he does the intricate simplicity of the natural world. In Vacant Lot, Manhattan Mitri offers a view towards an aging apartment complex buttressed by vandalized walls. In the foreground lies a vacant lot where overturned cement blocks and high growing weeds reflect a tatterdemalion look very much associated with New York’s Lower East Side. Conversely, the opulence of Manhattan’s Midtown is conveyed in West 54th Street from the Museum of Modern Art, a view looking Northeast from the rear of that institution’s fourth floor. Elegant condominiums adorn the receding picture plane with soaring modern skyscrapers beyond. Both charcoals are quintessential Manhattan; both are rendered with uncanny understanding for and appreciation of their respective environments.
In Early Morning, Paris, France trees line a street before a handsome townhouse, their fluffy leaves spilling over onto the sidewalk and dark branches reflecting in the building’s windows: an urban and bucolic equipoise. The pastoral reigns supreme in One Bale and One Silver Ring, Normandy, France, a fluid vertical vista of terrain with trees focused on a single bale of hale over which expand high rising cumulous clouds. The landscape Colza 2, Normandy, France, is the artist’s largest charcoal to date, an homage to both Impressionism and Expressionism in which an allover field of flowers expands as far as the eye can see to a distant horizon line.
Anthony Mitri’s work is the combination of extraordinary skill and the undeterminable element which makes an artist great: an ability to generate novel optical and emotive experiences by rendering images which may already be completely familiar to the viewer yet whose fascination is rediscovered. Whether an underground New York subway or a French landscape, the process of rendering a drawing becomes, as the artist has stated, “an extended moment of memory; a memoir in charcoal, an emotion recollected in tranquility”.
Ohio-born, Anthony Mitri studied for over ten years at the Cleveland Music School Settlement before attending the Cooper School of Art, also in Cleveland, and subsequently Kent State University. Ever since completing his studies at the Athenaeum School of Fine Art in La Jolla, the artist has lived and worked in the San Diego area, taking two personally productive and significant sojourns in France, from 1993-1994 and 1999-2001,where he lived and worked near or in the famous Normandy port city of Trouville, immortalized by Impressionists Eugène Boudin and Claude Monet. Along with solo exhibitions both in the United States and France, Mitri’s work has been included in numerous group exhibitions, and is included in collections throughout Southern California, particularly the Los Angeles area, as well as in New York, New England, and Tennessee. Anthony Mitri is also a highly skilled pianist and instructor of classical music.