Realist painter is ‘deeply concerned with beauty’

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 LEWISTON —A summer exhibit examining the career of Joseph Nicoletti, one of Maine’s foremost realist painters, will open with a lecture by the artist and reception Saturday, June 12, at the Bates College Museum of Art.

“Joseph Nicoletti: A Retrospective” will run through Sept. 25.

“Nicoletti’s images are beautiful, subtle and complex, rich with references to art history,” said museum education curator Anthony Shostak, who assembled the exhibition. “He is deeply concerned with beauty and takes pains to make each image special.”

The 60 paintings and drawings in the exhibition come from the museum’s collection, other museums and private collections, and from Nicoletti himself. An accompanying catalog features an essay by eminent art historian Jeffrey Muller, professor of history of art and architecture at Brown University.

Nicoletti is a senior-ranking faculty member of Bates’ department of art and visual culture, and has served as director of summer sessions at the International School for Painting, Drawing and Sculpture in Umbria, Italy.

He has taught at Bates since 1981 and the museum has shown his work previously, but this exhibition is the college’s first retrospective dedicated to his work.

“Nicoletti is a painter’s painter,” Shostak said. “His technical mastery is evident throughout the exhibition — with his ability to paint smoothly and seamlessly or to dig into paint films, and to harmonize subtle color shifts or create psychologically jarring compositions.

“He is equally adept at large and intimately tiny compositions, at times creating vastly deep spaces in minuscule pictures.”

Born in 1948 in Toritto, Italy, Nicoletti earned a master’s degree in fine arts from Yale University in 1972 and a bachelor’s degree from Queens College in New York.

He has exhibited internationally and his work is in major collections, including that of the Portland Museum of Art, where he participated in this year’s “Objects of Wonder” exhibit. He has had solo exhibitions at Chase Gallery in Boston, at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art and at the Greenhut, Barridoff and Gleason galleries in Portland.

In Maine, his numerous commissions include Percent for Art projects at the Maine State Police Crime Laboratory and at Deering High School in Portland, and the official portrait of Gov. Joseph Brennan.

The opening reception will be at 2:30 p.m. in the Olin Arts Center, 75 Russell St. The museum is open to the public at no cost. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For more information, call 786-6158 or e-mail [email protected]

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