In Neil Riley’s painting “Sunday, Empty Studio,” you can’t see dancers, but you can definitely feel them. The brushstrokes deliver a sense of passion and movement; the color a sense of willing sacrifice. Two chairs, one pointed at the other, allude to a conversation that took place before the studio emptied, the sweaty spirit of dance left to linger in the rays of a new day’s sun.
A painter’s painter, Neil Riley’s oil and watercolor artworks are moving. Abstracted forms, made by gestural brush strokes, dreamily dance in the artist’s version of Vermont landscapes and interiors and harken to the aesthetic of masters George Bellows and James Whistler.
Riley, who has won a Fulbright Fellowship and a Yale Summer School Grant, teaches painting and drawing at CCAD. So perhaps that isn’t a dance studio at all in “Sunday, Empty Studio.” Maybe it’s a classroom for painting on a non-school day. It doesn’t matter, his work seems to say — just melt into the paint and make it what you need to make it.
“Sunday, Empty Studio,” by Neil Riley