Alexander Purves : Watercolors 2013

October 1 – 26, 2013 ,   Reception Oct 3rd

The watercolors of Alexander Purves are made from the direct observation of nature. His approach emphasizes the immediacy of the medium and its ability to capture – with minimal means – the ephemeral quality of light. The watercolor is applied in transparent layers, the unpainted white paper often acting as a positive element in the composition. Rock formations are a recurrent subject, their aspect varying from moment to moment with the changing quality of the light.

These rock paintings are made on a small island in the St. Lawrence River, where he spends part of each summer.  Another frequent subject is the winter landscape of northwestern Connecticut where he maintains a studio.  The colors and textures of this landscape are reflected both in sketches of folding hills and in more focused studies of tangled brambles seen from the studio window. In commenting on his 2006 show at the Blue Mountain Gallery, William Zimmer observed, “[His] subjects are innately unglamorous, yet following Ruskin in this tendency to embrace the overlooked in nature, Alec Purves keeps coaxing eloquence out of brambles and rocks.”

Purves’s watercolors have been included in many group shows.  Major exhibitions of his work have been held at the Blue Mountain Gallery in New York City (2006, 2010), the Galerie des Artistes in New Haven (2010), the Washington (CT) Art Association (1987, 1992, 2003), and at the Woodbury Gallery of Antiques and Fine Art in 2004. In 2013 the Whitney Humanities Center at Yale mounted a show entitled “Alexander Purves: Roman Sketches” which presented a collection of his drawings and watercolors made over the last twelve years. In 2002 his travel drawings were exhibited at the Hunter College Leubsdorf Gallery in a show entitled “On Site.”

Purves received his design training at the Yale University School of Architecture, graduating in 1965 with a Master of Architecture degree. His professional career has been primarily that of an architect and a teacher of design. He has drawn and painted all his life and is now focusing on his career as an artist.

Having coordinated and taught design studios at all levels in the Yale School of Architecture, Purves currently restricts his teaching to “Introduction to Architecture,” a course he developed which is open to any student in the University, and for the last twelve years he has been leading an intensive drawing seminar in Rome for graduate architecture students.

Purves has lectured widely and participated as a visiting critic at schools including Harvard Graduate School of Design, Columbia University, University of Pennsylvania, Carleton University, Rhode Island School of Design, and Ohio State University.  He has also led many Yale Educational Travel programs, study tours that have included Italy, France and the British Isles as well as Eastern Europe, the Turkish coast, Egypt and Japan.