By Natasha Muhametzyanova, Contributing Writer
On Feb. 17, West Liberty University plunged into the beauty of countryside and pastel colors. New Nutting Gallery exhibition Sako-Lesako features plein-air paintings of two artists Robert Sako and David Lesako.
Plein-air or painting on location often brings associations with the lavender fields of Provence and picturesque hills of Tuscany. Tonight this art form found a new home. Hills and forests of Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia make the gallery walls almost invisible. Though some of the paintings do depict European landscapes, the majority of works presented is focused on local scenery.
“My home is my inspiration,” said Lesako.
There are stories behind those paintings. Looking at Autumn Sunset, Charm, Ohio, Sako remembers the anniversary trip with his wife to the Amish country. Another exhibit, one of the few paintings in this collection which focuses on people, portrays a man reading a book, his face serious. Sako laughs looking at the painting, “I paid my son to work as a model. It was a great experience!”
Looking at the works, you may notice that light plays a big role in the exhibition. “I love to hike and see how the light changes the landscape throughout the day. I love to paint in late afternoons when the light brings more color to nature,” said Lesako.
The paintings grasp the concept of light with an amazing accuracy from bright dawn to misty twilight, through winter and summer. The canvases bring scenes to life without having the details of digital images. “Paintings should have their own energy. I don’t want them to look like photos,” said Sako.
Though both artists work in French impressionism, their approaches are rather different what makes it easy to distinguish their works. Lesako shows the conflict of nature: bright colors contrast with the dark ones; sharp brush strokes attract more attention to the details rather than to a painting as a whole. The elements of his paintings are in a constant battle with one another.
There is a different kind of nature on another side of the gallery. Looking at Sako’s work, one word comes to mind – harmony. The colors smoothly transform from one to the other. There are no rough edges, no competition between the elements. Here even the storms look peaceful.
No wonder they call it impressionism. Even similar landscapes in this style bring completely different emotions. It is a true luck to experience all of them in a comfort of one gallery.