Art Review: Walking with horses

Abstract artist, and Strathmore native, Shane Guffogg shares his insight on Exeter exhibit featuring Brent Hudspeth

By Shane Guffogg
Special to the Sun-Gazette

EXETER – The paintings of Brent Hudspeth Art begins as an idea. I want to emphasize the word idea because it is informed by who we are and how we see and think about our world. Each of us have memories and as one day becomes the next, those memories get layered and compressed, similar I think, to how computers store information. These memories become memories of memories and begin to meld with other memories, creating a whole new picture.

I say all of this because I recently when to an art opening in Exeter at the old courthouse. The theme is horses and Brent Hudspeth’s paintings of horses, set in a landscape of lush brush strokes and colors that are muted, as if by time, were so quietly impactful that they now are etched into my memory.

Red Way Home by Brent Hudspeth.

Horses have been drawn and painted for thousands of years and was how we got from point A to point B as early as a hundred years ago. We still pay homage to horses by saying how much horse power the engine in our car has. These majestic animals are a part of our collective memory.

That said, drawing or painting a horse accurately is not easy. They have a lot of moving parts with lots of muscles that create an amazing landscape of surfaces. Brent Hudspeth’s paintings are beautiful and haunting, familiar like a dream of watching a western on TV from childhood. There is a tranquil stillness that occupies these paintings. But there is something else happening and that something is Brent’s ideas that led him to create these oil on canvas works of art.

I recently had the opportunity to ask Brent about his art and where his images derived from. He explained that they are from real life, books and the internet and he makes countless studies to truly understand the muscular structures of his subjects so that he can accurately depict these moments that are an accumulation of his memories.

Brent’s need to understand how a horse moves reminds me of Leonardo da Vinci’s countless drawings he did to understand human anatomy. Leonardo wasn’t painting a picture of a person, he was painting his idea of his subjects. Brent’s horses are just that, an idea of what a horse is now and what a horse was centuries ago.

His paintings are memories of moments and ideas of a romantic bygone era where a horse was off in the distance, waiting to carry the hero off into the sunset. There is an implied narrative in Brent’s work that speaks to another era of how the San Joaquin valley looked in the age of the horse, before the era of strip malls and parking lots. Brent Hudspeth’s paintings more than just images of horses, they are visual poems meant to slow us down and look into our past, which helps us to see and better understand who we are now.

-Shane Guffogg is a Strathmore native has made an impressive career of abstract paintings that attempt to answer the unanswerable question of what thoughts look like. Guffogg is known for his calligraphic oil paintings that seem to literally hover between abstraction and realism.

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