Raoul Middleman

Exhibition 2005



Irrepressibly enthusiastic about his art, Middleman is steeped in the roots of the imagery of Western painting. His tumultuous canvases with their splashing brushstrokes -- landscapes, seascapes, portraits, still life’s or narratives -- each one conveys his sense of joy and pleasure in its creation. Middleman explores the whole range of the painter’s art. His portraits -- perverse and confrontational -- take as their subjects his family, friends, neighbors, street people, pulling truths from these faces his subjects may not have known were there. His landscapes are like cantatas composed of painterly fugues of light and shadow, line and color. He’s painted the French countryside, the Cape Cod seacoast, the farmlands of Maryland and Pennsylvania. Tramping around the Baltimore harbor area for most of his adult life he finds beauty in rotting wharves, abandoned factories, rusted oil tanks. The thread that holds this explosion of productivity together is the joy he encounters in his work.
His landscapes are inherently unstructured. They are given a meaning by their treatment: what is selected as a motif, the sense of near and far, the path the eye takes through space, how the light fails, how the air envelops, how the frame is filled -- and first and foremost how the brushstroke picks out the contrasts, opacities, and transparencies -- what shines and what is shaded.
Middleman’s work is in the collections of the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington DC, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, among many others.