While many abstract painters like to leave the origin and identity of their markings to the imagination of their work’s viewers, Carole Bolsey willingly revealed the inspiration for her “Levitation/Horsing Around” exhibition that’s on view through April 7 at the South Shore Art Center.
“Sometimes these objects are barns with strong light casting shadows on land, sometimes boats, light, reflections, nothing,” she notes in her show’s mission statement. “In this series the objects are horses, space and gerunds: words ending in –ing indicating actions or states of being, as in ‘being.’ As in standing, grazing, wading and, in this series, Levitating.”
She said the works aren’t “about horses,” but “of horses” — and space, movement, drawing and paint — without narratives, that capture creatures living as is, “unbridled, unsaddled, unridden and apparently untrained. Too wild or too young to behave. Jumping straight into the air, all their power bunched into a jump for no reason, a kind of weighty flight”
Bolsey’s personal experience with horses has been, she said, few but powerful.
“Riding in a roundup in the Wind River Valley of the Absaroka Mountain Range of Wyoming, bringing cows and their calves down for the winter, I felt so at home, so at one with it all, that, surely in a former life, I must have been a cowpoke or a horse. Or a cow.
“In rural Maryland we lived among many horse owners and breeders. Neighbors brought their horses to exercise and play on our land. I painted my first horse after seeing a friend ride slowly by, framed in my studio window. I asked her to bring her horse into the studio, which was on the ground floor. She walked him across the echoing plywood floor and stood him in profile in front of a canvas 8’6” wide, where he fit perfectly.
“I stood between him and the canvas, where I could run my right hand over his contours and with my left, draw those contours on the canvas, like Thomas Jefferson’s polygraph. Though I’m not ambidextrous, I managed it. When the horse stepped away I had a six-legged moose. Additional work was required.
“I have photographed, studied, admired, gazed at, gaped at, pondered and been blown away by horses, but have rarely ridden them. Maybe this accounts for my painting them bare and unencumbered. Maybe it’s political. Or aesthetic. Not sure. It’s a mystery,” Bolsey concluded.
(“Levitation/Horsing Around: Works by Carole Bolsey” continues through April 7 at the South Shore Art Center, 119 Ripley Street, Cohasset, Mass.; the venue is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sunday from noon-4 p.m. For more information, call (781) 383-2787.)