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Exodus

1989
20th Century
114 x 84 in. (289.6 x 213.4 cm)

Bo Bartlett, American, b. 1955

Object Type: PAINTINGS
Creation Place: North America
Medium and Support: Oil on canvas
Credit Line: Commissioned by La Salle University Art Museum
Accession Number: 89-P-360
The title, Exodus, refers to the Biblical story of the Israelites who fled from their enslavement. The central theme of this painting seems to be the search or journey for secular and spiritual knowledge undertaken by youth, especially during their college years. The successive stages of this journey are referred to by the various poses and expressions of the figures as they move up the hill in a rhythmical swing upwards from the lower right corner: from the bewildered toddler and youths at the bottom; to the young man standing at the top center, who seems captivated or inspired; and finally to the woman in red on the far right, with the glow of light above her head, who has reached the end of her journey toward wisdom. The four older men on the side of the hill serve as the teachers and guides along the journey. The message is one of hope, wonderment, and spiritual renewal for persons of all faiths.

This painting was commissioned by La Salle and subjects were gathered to provide a cross-section of the University community: Professors Claude Koch, Joseph F. Flubacher, and Brother Francis McCormick are grouped together on the left; retired counselor Rosa Lee Smith stands at the top of the hill in red; Dr. Joseph Kane, former Dean of the Business School, stands on the left side of the hill with arm pointing; students Rachel Ravasco and Dave Weems stand on the hill in the middle background. Other La Salle students, professors, and staff members portrayed in the far background include Frank McLaughlin, Joanie Hasson, Brother Mike Andrejko, Brother Arthur Bangs, Mary Morrow Farrell, and Ann Shields. The two central figures at the top of the hill and those in the foreground are friends of the artist; his son is in the lower right corner. The composition began with the artist posing and taking photographs of the figures on the lawn of the Peale House one spring day in April 1989.

About Triptych:
Three paintings by American artist Bo Bartlett, though created separately, were installed in the lobby of Olney Hall in fall 1989 as a three-part installation: Triptych, and still hang there today.

Born in Columbus, Georgia, Bartlett studied Old Master paintings in Florence, Italy before moving to Philadelphia in 1976. As a student at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts he received numerous awards and was taught and inspired by Philadelphia artists Sidney Goodman, Arthur DeCosta, and Morris Blackburn. He later apprenticed under the notable realist painter Nelson Shanks, and followed an anatomy class at The Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Bartlett’s work recalls American realist traditions, as defined by artists such as Thomas Eakins and Andrew Wyeth. The familiar subjects of home, family, and friends prevail in his dreamlike, hyper-realist canvases. The commonplace is raised to epic prominence as his monumental paintings subtly blend biblical, political, or social themes and imagery within contemporary settings. The viewer becomes intrigued, almost haunted, by Bartlett’s figures and symbolic situations which suggest tension, vulnerability, and the complexity and mystery of the human soul. The narrative content is often enigmatic, and Bartlett’s works may be interpreted in numerous ways.

Barlett’s work expresses his strong commitment to social justice, community engagement, and the transformative power of art. These paintings are well placed within our University, as an institution of higher education that seeks to impart secular knowledge and social involvement in an atmosphere that celebrates spiritual values.

See also:
Craterman: http://artcollection.lasalle.edu/Obj2765, and Jesus at The Festival of Shelters (Feast of Tabernacles): http://artcollection.lasalle.edu/Obj2908
Current Location: Art Museum : Olney Hall, 1st Floor, Lobby

Exhibitions


- Triptych, Curated by Caroline Wistar, La Salle University Art Museum, March 20th – May 31st, 1990.

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