Great skies, thick with clouds as soft as Charmin, dominate Thomas Sgouros’ landscapes of endless, flat marshes and slices of sea brightly reflecting the sky. These are the vast skies that fill the imaginations of coastal dwellers.
Here clouds threaten downpours or begin to break up at the bottom. There they churn and bump together and dissolve. The 79-year-old RISD professor renders everything in lovely soft focus, the way they flattered early Hollywood starlets. One imagines he’s the sort prone to swooning when watching the Weather Channel. Ultimately these are accomplished but conservative oil paintings, still it’s hard not to get caught up in the deep moods he evokes with his palette of violets and golds, blues and greens, that run toward the hues of lollipops.
The canvases are all dubbed “Remembered Landscape,” their fuzziness suggesting idealized memories of places he’s seen in Rhode Island or Maine – though for Sgouros, who’s legally blind, the issue may be just as much a matter of practicality as sentiment. At his best, the paintings bring to mind George Inness’ soft 19th century landscapes, but simpler, sweeter, more nostalgic.
Thomas Sgouros, Gallery Agniel, 120 North Main St., Providence, Nov. 14 to Dec. 30, 2006.