Painting what’s not there

October 30, 2011 § 3 Comments

Admirers | Terry Miura

Admirers | Terry Miura

A conversation with TERRY MIURA

The title of your new exhibition is “Urban Aria.” What is the significance of the title, and how did you arrive at it?

The word aria has a couple of definitions, one of which is Italian for air. This series of paintings has heavy emphasis on atmosphere and its effects, so I thought it was an appropriate title. The other reference for the word is musical — an aria is a melody, often a complex song in an opera. I often have musical references for titles of my paintings and shows (an earlier exhibition at Thomas Reynolds Gallery was entitled “Andante”) because I feel there’s a strong relationship between imagery and music, and I often think of my painting in terms of musical concepts. Harmony and rhythm are two of the more obvious examples.

Is this a new direction for you?

The genre isn’t new to me. I started out painting cityscapes a long time ago. There was a period of several years during which I focused on learning the craft of landscape painting en plein air, but the city never left me. What is new this time is that my work has become more abstract, both in terms of how I paint and what I paint.
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One who sees

December 8, 2010 § Leave a comment

“We are enveloped and drenched in the marvelous, but we do not see” is a quote by Baudelaire [painter Terry Miura notes in his blog. He continues:] It’s also the opening line of a review of my first West Coast solo show, an exhibition of cityscapes and architectural themes, which took place some thirteen years ago at the Thomas Reynolds Gallery in San Francisco.

It was written by Mr. William Whitney, an art historian and former executive director at the California Historical Society. He said some very nice things about my work, and for a young upstart like me, his words were a tremendous confidence booster.

But as the years passed and I became older and more experienced (and hopefully, a little wiser) I began to feel that his generous praise of my work was… well, too generous. Try as I might, it became increasingly apparent that I couldn’t live up to it. Eventually, I gave up painting cityscapes and turned to landscape painting, hoping to learn new things in a completely different context.

Well I learned a lot, and still am learning every day. In the past few years, I have been attempting to return to the cityscape by applying what I learned from landscape painting to my cityscapes. The quality of light, color, edges, and abstraction are high on the list of things which make my new city paintings different — and much, much closer to my own identity. I’m encouraged that this time around, I have a fighting chance of living up to Mr. Whitney’s original review.

Adagio | Terry Miura

Terry Miura Is One Who Sees

“We are enveloped and drenched in the marvelous, but we do not see,” Baudelaire has said. The artist Terry Miura sees, and he achieves one of the prime functions of the artist by enabling us to see the familiar in a new light.

Miura endows arches, pediments, columns and doorways with a kind of timeless poetic nostalgia and uses their abstract potential to achieve compositions that compel our attention. The nostalgic mood is heightened by understated muted color and by the lone passerby, alienated and oblivious of the scene and unaware that he is being observed — another who does not see.

Miura’s original vision is enhanced by a thorough mastery of his craft. These paintings live in the viewer’s mind — a quality not often found in the frenetic world of contemporary art.

— William W. Whitney

Soulful depictions of the earth

November 10, 2004 § Leave a comment

Vague Memories | Terry Miura

Some artists are finding that painting a landscape’s subtleties, rather than specifics, are producing a stronger connection between their work and viewers. California oil painter Terry Miura has learned to allow the viewers room for their memories to be awakened.

In the late 1990s, Miura transplanted himself to a rural location outside of Sacramento, after living for years in New York. He was comfortable with painting cityscapes until he was overwhelmed with the presence and versatility of nature.

“Nature was all around me. There are certain compositional elements in landscapes that I couldn’t explore in cityscapes,” says Miura. “I prefer to work with shapes rather than forms. There is a mechanical perspective that is an integral part of painting cityscapes. You can only distort it so much. It demands too much attention from the viewer, who can’t see beyond the realism. It bothered me. Landscapes are more forgiving. You can move a tree any which way and it doesn’t fall apart in the painting. In the landscape, you can also get greater depth.”

Painting from memory and imagination, Miura believes that landscapes offer viewers a deja vu experience when certain elements are in place. “What makes us unique is that we are an accumulative whole of past experiences,” says Miura. “There are certain memories, whether in pictures or feelings, that we remember when in nature. I try to paint the environment that causes subtle memories without names.”

Miura says that when he shows his landscape work, it will remind some viewers of places they’ve been, rather than specific California scenarios where he gets his inspiration.

“When I show my paintings, a viewer might say to me it reminds them of a place they grew up in Massachusetts. They are no longer looking at the painting, but relating to it on an emotional level. That is a great compliment. If I do it right, it will relate to people on a universal level.”


For Terry Miura, a new path

September 2, 2004 § Leave a comment

Sentinels | Terry Miura

Terry Miura, who moved from Brooklyn and now lives near Sacramento, departs from his earlier paintings of urban cityscapes in these painterly evocations of a nearly pure landscape, encroached upon only slightly by humans.

Avoiding the pitfalls of contemporary impressionism, which too often comes off as sweet and sugary, Miura follows a path more akin to the tonalism of early California painters such as Xavier Martinez and Giuseppe Cadenasso. Using earth colors and a structure based on light and dark tonal variations, he gives us subtle and emotive scenes of foothill vistas and Napa Valley roads.

Evidence of human habitation is limited in Miura’s landscapes, faint reminders of transitory dwellers on the land. A barn sits under a romantic twilight sky, a footpath unfolds ribbonlike over rolling green foothills, a road sign and telephone poles flank a highway. Nature itself is the main subject here as Miura concentrates on the atmospheric effects of light and air on the landscape.

Miura is sensitive to the changes in light as he moves from place to place, giving us a bleak and arid sky over I-5, capturing the ironically lovely rosiness of smoggy Pasadena and the misty blue air surrounding a river oak. He is especially adept at conveying the mysterious beauty of Napa at nightfall in a magical scene of a foggy Highway 29 lined with looming eucalyptus trees at dusk. It’s a gem.

— VICTORIA DALKEY, The Sacramento Bee

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