There is a sense of serenity and timelessness to the work of David Ligare that comes both from the realist tradition in which he works and the bright, coastal country lighting that suffuses it. Whether or not you regard an adoption of the classical style – or, you might say less kindly, an aping of it – as the acme of artistic achievement is a matter of personal choice. In terms of execution though, there can be no question. These are beautiful works and what you see is without doubt exactly what Ligare wants you to see. At least we don’t have to debate that one.
The blurb tells me that “Ligare sought to make the ideas of antiquity relevant in today’s world, hoping to spark a renewed desire for knowledge and offering paradigms of moral choice.” I’d love to know which came first there. Was it the chicken of the answer, the finished work, or the egg of the question: why?
There is without doubt a sense of place here. These paintings are not set in a Classical landscape, but in California. I can almost hear The Eagles playing quietly in the background.
What you make of this is up to you. It’s a substantial tome (268 large format pages and heavy paper) and beautifully illustrated, even if the colour screen does feel just a little coarse. Scott Shields, David Rodes and Patricia Junker provide a commentary that sets the work in context and holds the whole thing together. If you like this, you’ll love it. Otherwise, you may just pick it up and then return it (carefully, please) to the shelf.
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