The Cove is a classic Bartlett painting, as it depicts his wife and muse, the painter Betsy Eby, staring intensely at the viewer while a younger female figure in a red dress gazes off into the distance towards the promise of the rising sun. Bartlett has lived and worked on islands off the coast of Maine and Washington, so rowboats have a continual role in his work and personal iconography. Refugees is another figurative piece also employing the row boat imagery.
In another painting, The Wayfarer, a young man stares confidently yet wide-eyed toward the viewer. With a look of innocence and a glowing halo around his face, the man seemingly transcends the small-town circus happening behind him, possibly not even aware of its presence.
BO BARTLETT, one of the great American Realists today, opens a new exhibition of paintings October 26 through December 9 at the Miles McEnery Gallery in New York City. Bartlett has spent the past two and a half years painting for this exhibition, a journey that has taken him from Maine to Mexico City and a few stops in between.
Bartlett works in realism but his paintings are imbued with a psychological drama that carries the work into the realm of dreams, surrealism, and mythology. For this exhibition, Bartlett initially planned an entire body of work based on animals. However, after attending a bullfight in Mexico, the theme shifted and became a visual discussion of man versus nature. And, through this, figures began to work their way back into the paintings.