Robert Feasley, painter
I would like to start this afternoon’s lecture about the paintings of
my father, Robert Feasley with a short disclaimer. I am trained as a
musician, not a visual artist or art historian with any depth of
knowledge about the art world in general. Most of what will follow is
what has been gleaned from conversations with my parents and whatever
general insights one gains from growing up in a house filled with my
parents – and friends of my parents’ – art.
That said I welcome the chance to share some examples of my father’s
work and would like to thank my friend Vaculovič´s Tvá for suggesting
Robert Feasley was born in Downers Grove Illinois in 1926. He served
in the Army Air Corps during WWII and received his Masters of Fine
Arts from the University of Oregon in 1951. His major teachers at
Oregon were products of the Art Institute of Chicago who were
themselves in the thrall of the Paris school – particularly Cezanne.
In his early work this is readily discernable.
Actually the very first work shown here was done when he was nine
years old. His talent manifested itself quite early. My brother has a
charcoal drawing he did of a dog at the age of six, which could have
easily been taken from a book of the time. My mother is an
accomplished commercial artist – a master of the lost art of fashion
illustration. When my older brother and I were young, our parents
furnished us with good paper, charcoal, tempera paints etc. and
encouraged us to spend time on our trips overseas, to keep sketch
books and to spend part of each day drawing. The idea was with their
genes and time and the right supplies, our talents, as artists would
emerge as well. They are still waiting….
Another strong early influence was the German Abstract School. This
was reinforced by his postgraduate studies at Mills College in
California with the Great German Expressionist, Max Beckman in the
summer of 1950. Feasley pursued further studies at the L’Acadimie de
La Grande Chamiere in Paris from 1952-1953. He was profoundly
influenced by the work of the post-impressionism of Pierre Bonnard and
remained a confirmed colorist throughout his career. Though many of
his works were quite abstract, they were always based on organic form
– landscape, portraits, seascapes, cloudscapes, cityscapes etc. There
is a dichotomy of direction in his paintings of the 50’s; it moves
between the abstract expressionism of the time towards a more
impressionistic fare- and back.
Feasley was always influenced by where he lived – be it a hilly
college town, by the ocean, living in a city or by his travels to
Spain, Italy, Greece, France…
We spent a year living on the Costa del Sol in southern Spain from
1968-1969. He was fascinated by the Spanish people and landscapes –
particularly the “pueblos blancos” (white villages) of Andalucia).
This was during the waning years of the Franco era. The iron fist of
fascism was everywhere in evidence and can be felt in the dynamic
tension of many of his paintings from the time.
Robert Feasley was a professor of painting and life drawing at
Washington State University in Pullman Washington for thirty years.
Eastern Washington is known as the Palouse region and consists mainly
of large wheat farms. The land is largely treeless but never flat and
he was fascinated by the undulating hills and the shapes and colors
Show Palouse slides
Also paramount in his art was a fascination with the human figure. He
was a sought after teacher of figure drawing. He was always going to
write a book on his life drawing techniques and ideas but never quite
got around to it. He constantly honed his life drawing skills (show
slides 10-12). The 1972 Olympics inspired him to create a whole series
of Track and Field paintings that celebrated the human form.
Perhaps his most emotionally engaging work was as that of a
portraitist. This ranged from strangers he met in his travels (show
slide of Old Spanish Woman and her village) to close friends and
relatives. His portraits of the Abstract Painter Robert Sterling
shortly after his son died (Grieving Mountain Man) or the English
Novelist Gabriel Fielding - shortly before suffering a nervous
breakdown –delve deeply into their injured psyches. The portrait of my
maternal grandfather is also very interesting emotionally. A complex
and interesting man, my grandfather took the summer off from his third
year of medical school and worked as a railway clerk and ended up
working the same job for almost forty years.
In summation, it is a profound honor to have been able to share the
work of my father at such a prestigious and wonderful festival. My
father is physically strong in his 85th year but is suffering the
ravages of Alzheimer’s disease with a cheerfulness that belies his
condition. Though he no longer paints, his work, which stretches back
some 75years, is testament to a fierce and uncompromising artistic
integrity. I would once again like to thank Vaclav and Zdenka for
making this all possible.
Robert Feasley - obrazy I
Robert Feasley - obrazy II