Vines: Detail of one of Julia Coash’s paintings from Bermuda.
Vines: Detail of one of Julia Coash’s paintings from Bermuda.

Bermuda’s lush vegetation has provided the inspiration to Masterwork’s Artist In Residence Julia Coash, who is no stranger to Bermuda’s art scene.

The abstract painter, who used to teach at Bermuda College, is due to open her show on July 19th at the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art. The show, titled Rum Jungle, will include paintings from around the island she has created since she arrived here in May.

“The lush vegetation here in Bermuda always amazes me,” says Coash. “I love both the tended, shaped gardens and, even more, the untended, overgrown places. The wonderful colours of the time worn walls, the vines, the jungle that continually threatens to over run the best intentions. I like to think about what it must have been like when the first ship-wrecked settlers arrived here on the island.”

Coash taught art and art history some years ago at Bermuda College, where she was the recipient of a Distinguished Teacher’s Award. During that time she was also active in the local art scene, curating and judging shows at the Bermuda National Gallery, Bermuda Society of the Arts, Bermuda College, and the Bermuda Art Centre at Dockyard. 

She frequently exhibited her work on the island and was included in the 2004 Bacardi Biennial at BNG.

Coash is currently a Professor of Art and Art History and the Co-Chair of the Visual and Performing Arts Department at Albertus Magnus Collge in New Haven, Connecticut. She has also held teaching positions at the American University in Cairo, Egypt, Bradford College, and Wabash College. She has exhibited her work in Bermuda, Paris, Cairo and throughout the United States and is represented by galleries in New York City and Los Angeles.

Exuberant

“I love being back on the island and have been working on a series of new paintings inspired by the exuberant, twisting jungle vines and the qualities of light and color that play across the surface textures of Bermuda’s lovely old walls,” she said.

A gallery release describes her work as, “using light, atmosphere and movement to dissolve shapes and merge values — creating a dialogue between tangible object and atmospheric dissolution of form. 

“Intentional ambiguity is used to create a tension between the literal world and the abstract, allowing solid forms to evolve into gestures of pure paint. Her subjects are expressions of physicality, while at the same time revealing a less tangible range of emotional possibilities.”

Coash continues: “My paintings, in keeping with more modernist traditions, are as much about the paint itself, the surface qualities, the textures and gestures, as they are about the subjects.”

Coash’s recent sabbatical in Southeast Asia (studying calligraphy) as well as her interests in Asian brush painting have influenced her interest in the empathetic gesture, as her marks both describe forms and also suggest movement. The use of pentimento (marks visible from the underpainting) reveals the painting/drawing process through transparent layers of colour. The juxtaposition of painted over areas with exposed (or excavated) pentimento, leaves shards of information that encourage the viewer to explore beneath the surface.

“It’s about the process of the painting and the journey as much as the destination.”

The official opening reception for the exhibition will be Friday, July 19 from 5:30 to 7pm. Coash will also be giving a lecture about her work in the Masterworks Gallery on Thursday, July 11 from 12:15pm to 1:30pm, and teaching a painting workshop open to all at the Museum on Friday, July 26 and Saturday, July 27 from 10am to 2:30pm. The show runs until July 19–29, 2013.For more information contact Robyn Hooper on 299-4000, or visit www.bermudamasterworks.com.