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Philip Koch (b. 1948), Mansard Roof, 2016; oil on canvas, 22 x 44 inches; Image courtesy of the artist

Philip Koch (b. 1948), Mansard Roof, 2016; oil on canvas, 22 x 44 inches; Image courtesy of the artist

Time Travel in the Burchfield Archives: Paintings by Philip Koch

As part of the Burchfield Artist-In-Residence Program

On View Friday, April 13–Sunday, July 29, 2018

The work Burchfield Penney artist-in-residence Philip Koch created over the past 2.5 years will be the subject of an exhibition opening Friday, April 15, 2018. The Burchfield Penney Art Center at SUNY Buffalo State today announced Time Travel in the Burchfield Archives: Paintings and Drawings by Philip Koch will be on view from April 13 – July 29, 2018.   

The exhibition will feature over 30 oil paintings and works on paper started in the areas where Charles Burchfield loved to work—West Seneca, East Aurora, Chestnut Ridge Park, downtown Buffalo, and Salem, OH. Selections of drawings from the Burchfield Archives that influenced Koch as he worked will also be in the installation.

Koch spent many hours in the Burchfield Penney Art Center archive poring through thousands of Burchfield drawings. “My researched revealed just how seriously he took his own talent. Burchfield built up his world step by step with preparatory studies he organized and documented which made a big impression on me,” said Koch. “It inspired me to think about recording my work in a meaningful, systematic way.”

Burchfield in his maturity came to reevaluate and re-value the work he had done in his early years and incorporated it into later paintings which inspired Koch to reassess the work he did as a young artist. “I saw more excitement, it was better than I remembered and encouraged me want to go back to borrow some of things I used to do in my 20s and 30s,” said Koch. “His openness to changing his mind about his early work encouraged me to reconsider my own methods. As a result, I began painting in oil outdoors again for the first time in 20 years. It has felt like a warm breeze renewing my excitement with the natural world.”

The residency provided Koch, who was born in Rochester, NY, his first opportunity to make art near where he grew up, as he didn’t study art until he went to college at Oberlin, OH. “I was struck by how profoundly an artist is influenced by where they experience their childhood, in both my case and Burchfield’s. You can see his childhood influencing the way he thought and felt all throughout the rest of his life and over and over you see imagery that comes right out of where he grew up,” said Koch. “Creating art work living in Buffalo he recycled the excitement he felt as a kid in Salem, Ohio. Painting in the environs where Burchfield worked reminded me of where I grew up and so much of what I do as a painter has to do with childhood memories. Burchfield found magic in the ordinary.”

Koch added that while he and Burchfield paint the landscape in distinct, different styles, they have an affinity of spirit for the natural world. “The Residency reinforced that conviction,” said Koch. “From his drawings I learned about his persistence and patience which is very instructive, artists by nature tend to be impatient and one of the keys to success is to negotiate with yourself to slow down and savor things. Burchfield drew beautifully, I ran across everything from wildly gestural studies to elegant, delicate ones of seed life or buds on a branch. He rendered an amazing range of feelings and approaches in the work. I came out respecting him as a draftsman.”

“When visitors see the exhibition, I want them to realize that the tradition of landscape painting is just as vital and contemporary a branch of contemporary art as any other. It’s a wild, risk taking, dangerous and mysterious undertaking.” 

About Philip Koch

Philip Koch is a celebrated painter well-known for colorful, panoramic landscapes. During his year-long survey, he painted on location in some of the landscapes where Charles E. Burchfield worked and research his legacy in The Center’s archives and exhibitions. Koch also created some work on-site where visitors experienced his unique flair and creativity with color and design.

The Artist-in-Residence program is funded by an endowment in memory of founding director Edna M. Lindemann, Ed.D., with support from Peter C. and Joan Andrews. Residencies are awarded to scholars and artists uniquely influenced by Charles E. Burchfield and use the collections and archives to further their own work and expand understanding of Burchfield as a person, artist, and poetic writer.

Early on Philip Koch was inspired by the color and energy of modern art. Through his paintings he casts his modernist influenced eye back on the long tradition of American landscape panoramas from the 19th century. The Rochester-born artist based in Baltimore travels frequently to New England and upstate New York to paint in the same locations that inspired Edward Hopper, Winslow Homer, and the Hudson River School artists he admires. “Each generation,” says Koch, “needs a new image of what our earth looks like in our time. There will always be a need for landscape painters to show us where we live.”

A former abstract artist, Koch was inspired by seeing the work of Edward Hopper to change to working in a realist direction. Since 1983 he has had 15 residencies staying and working in the studio that Hopper built on the shore of Cape Cod Bay in S. Truro, Massachusetts. It was in that studio that Hopper produced many of his world famous images.

Koch is the great grandson of John Wallace, a Scottish landscape painter, and the grandson of John Capstaff, the inventor of the first commercially available color film, Kodachrome. Despite his family link to photography, Koch is committed to working from only direct observation or from memory rather than painting from photographs.