A Movement and a Region Evolve
by J. Fatima Martins
David Brewster exemplifies, in an extraordinary way, how American regionalism has evolved and continues to manifest into the contemporary realm. He is a master of formal and trained juxtapositions and dichotomies. In his paintings, Brewster combines the power of midcentury action and expressive mark-making — contemporary forms of plein air production — with the narrative intellectualism of scene painting, capturing and interpreting, from a personal perspective, the nuances of a specific time and place.
He is a thoroughly American artist, and as expected for a doyen talent, his work is steeped in and bridges the fullness of art history. What makes him an example and expansion of the regionalist mode is the manner in which he reveals, creates and projects a story. Like the regionalists of the past, his style appeals to a popular American sensibility that is thoroughly modern. Today’s audiences are accustomed to and desire abstracted, expressive, gestural forms of semi-realism, with recognizable and accessible subject matter. Brewster succeeds in delivering paintings that touch and bring up social realism in a manner that attracts the curiosity of contemporary visual readers.
His gorgeous and color-lush landscapes, architectural portraits and genre scenes entrap the viewer. They reveal not only the artist’s mysterious, complex, intense and very authentic conceptual viewpoints, but also oftenmissed, fleeting and remembered atmospheric and locational details. He forces the cold metal of industry out, spotlighting its odd and contrasting trespassing upon the beauty of Vermont’s land. There is nothing artificial and contrived about Brewster; the work holds a liquid and oozing honesty.