Artist Spotlight: Wilhelm Neusser

Neusser working in his studio, Summer 2018. Image courtesy of the artist.

Wilhelm Neusser is a contemporary painter, known for his strikingly moody landscapes, rich with texture. Born in Cologne, Germany, Neusser’s childhood home provided his initial inspiration. He recalls paintings of hunting dogs and ducks, echoing his family’s farming and hunting lineage, lining the walls of his house. Throughout his painting career he has experimented with various subjects, but sees an exceptional value in the open space for exploration in a landscape. For Neusser, “A landscape painting is a metaphorical space that invites the eye and mind to wander and wonder and for the viewer to project.” 

Neusser relocated to the United States in 2011, and his subject matter gradually transitioned to the landscapes found in his current body of work. Recently, Neusser is inspired by the western art of the 19th century, including German Romanticism, Turner and Constable in England, and the Hudson River School in the US. He is drawn to the way these movements are “both nostalgic and progressive” and seeks to incorporate these themes in his own work.

The artist currently has paintings in three exhibitions across two continents. Nocturne/Doublemoon (1729), a work drawing from the German romantic tradition and Murakami’s recent novel IQ84 will be on view at Abigail Ogilvy Gallery for the month of October, while its partner piece is currently on exhibition at Mass MoCA in North Adams, MA (through the end of 2018). Neusser’s impressive museum and gallery shows are a testament to his paintings’ resonance with contemporary viewers.

Nocturne/Doublemoon (1729), oil on canvas, 48 x 68 in. installed in the Abigail Ogilvy Gallery.

Several of Neusser’s cranberry bog paintings for Field Trip, his solo exhibition in Karlsruhe, Germany.

While Nocturne/Doublemoon (1729) is a quintessential painting by Neusser - a haunting, rich landscape - lately, he has been working on a new series. During our summer studio visit with the artist, we had the opportunity to view his recent cranberry bog paintings. Entering the meticulously clean studio space, a plastic drop cloth lines the walls to protect them from paint - and also catches the deep, maroon paint splatters left behind when creating this body of work. The paintings were drying, just in time to leave Neusser’s Somerville studio and head overseas to Galerie Knecht & Burster in Karlsruhe, Germany, where his work is featured in the solo exhibition, Field Trip (on view through October 13th). Inspired by New England’s cranberry harvest, the subject was new for Neusser and presents a North American scenery to a German audience.

Neusser remains adamant about letting each work speak for itself. He sees his works as open for interpretation:

“Ideally viewers don’t need to know much about the work or the artist. If they spend some time allowing the paintings to unfold and for themselves to explore the space between the known and unknown, that would be great.”

Throughout decades of artistic exploration, Neusser has remained committed to challenging the viewer to explore the multitude of layers landscape painting has to offer. To see his paintings in person, stop by the Nocturne group exhibition at the Abigail Ogilvy Gallery, on display from October 3rd through October 28th.

Available work by Wilhelm Neusser

Press Release: Nocturne

On view: October 3- 28, 2018   

Abigail Ogilvy Gallery is proud to present, Nocturne, a group exhibition of contemporary artists who work within and against the notion of the landscape. The artists on view place a heavy emphasis on process and experimentation, reviving a traditional subject matter with a contemporary approach. Nocturne features artwork by Eric Aho, Christiane Corcelle, Keenan Derby, Daniel Herr, Ariel Basson Freiberg, Wilhelm Neusser, Soo Sunny Park, and Anna Schuleit Haber.

Central to this exhibition is Anna Schuleit Haber’s painting, The Black Studio, in which the artist paints a stark black background, bringing the viewer’s attention to the seemingly floating objects. An office chair, a human’s foot, reflected numeric symbols emerge from the flatness of the background, creating infinite space behind the painting. True to Schuleit Haber’s style, the artist leaves it up to the audience to find meaning amongst the lost objects.

In works by Eric Aho, Keenan Derby, and Daniel Herr, the artists reimagine the outdoors from memory; turning a barn, reflections, and street traffic into large, sweeping brushstrokes. Geometric forms allude to objects, allowing the paintings to explore exhausted subjects in contemporary ways. Eric Aho’s painting, Wilderness Studio (Summer), was created in 2013 during a pivotal time in the artist’s career. With a studio surrounded by wilderness, Aho focuses on recreating the essence of the natural world around him. A deep engagement with the history of Impressionists and Post-Impressionists aesthetics and ideas are at play while the artist responds to the legacy of traditional landscape painting.  

Cirrus , Keenan Derby, Oil on canvas, 82 x 70 in.

Cirrus, Keenan Derby, Oil on canvas, 82 x 70 in.

Keenan Derby considers surface and movement as he contrives his abstracted landscapes, embracing the unpredictable physical properties of his medium. For Derby, the quiet incorporation of sand into his painting is pivotal for creating his tidal landscapes. Interested in the cyclical yet unpredictable movement of nature and the progression of time, Cirrus depicts a singular landscape in which time has been flattened.

In his first exhibition at Abigail Ogilvy Gallery, Daniel Herr portrays an evening scene in his painting White Nights. The work is raw and unpolished, guiding the viewer’s eye around the unexpected mark making strewn about the canvas. Structures take hold against the horizon, leaving the impression of a dreamy landscape. The visual paint language used by George Innes and Basquiat can be seen affecting the work of Herr through his exploration of color.

Glow , Ariel Basson Freiberg, Oil on linen, 36 x 48 in.

Glow, Ariel Basson Freiberg, Oil on linen, 36 x 48 in.

Similar to Herr, Ariel Basson Freiberg’s swift brushstrokes collide with color across the dark surface. The allusion of a human form dances along the right side of the canvas, defined by thin highlights of color, only to dissipate before our eyes. The outline of a face is apparent, yet left unfinished, a technique Basson Freiberg continues to explore in her Trespass Daughter series of paintings in which the bodies are grounded in artifacts yet erased when faced with the whiplash of history.

The exhibition’s namesake, Nocturne/Doublemoon (1729) by Wilhelm Neusser’s show his recent influence of 19th century Western art. For Neusser, a landscape painting is a metaphorical space that invites the eye and mind to wander and wonder and for the viewer to project. This particular painting has a partner piece that can be found on view at Mass MoCa in North Adams, MA through the end of 2018.

Nocturne/Doublemoon (1729) , Wilhelm Neusser, Oil on linen, 48 x 66 in.

Nocturne/Doublemoon (1729), Wilhelm Neusser, Oil on linen, 48 x 66 in.

Contrasting with Neusser’s surreal nightscape, Soo Sunny Park reconfigures and redefines aspects of different mediums to construct pieces which fall in between them. Her sculptures are drawings, her drawings are sculptures, and her installations are a combination of both. Floating 3 Mineral Structures is both freestanding sculpture and wall art, meant to create an immersive experience for the viewer. By bringing the viewer between a mirror and the geometric artwork on paper, we become an active participant – an introspective opportunity subtly encouraged by Park.

Christiane Corcelle’s Lost Jar series is inspired by a poem about a boy who digs a hole in order to hide a jar of coins. Poet Michael Colonnese writes the character as hoping to save for when he might need money as an adult, only to later find out his jar was covered by a driveway. Reminiscing on her own past, Corcelle’s carborundum collagraphs pay homage to jars filled by her mother with the fruits of her garden, but in this contemporary take on the jar she fills them only with money, fire, some empty – but never fruits or vegetables.

Lost Jar 4, Lost Jar 7, Lost Jar 2 , Christiane Corcelle, Carborundum collograph, 35 x 28 in.

Lost Jar 4, Lost Jar 7, Lost Jar 2, Christiane Corcelle, Carborundum collograph, 35 x 28 in.

Nocturne is on view at Abigail Ogilvy Gallery through October 28, 2018. 

Eric Aho studied at the Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design in London, England and received a BFA from the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. In 1989 he participated in the first exchange of scholars in over thirty years between the U.S. and Cuba. He completed his graduate work at the Lahti Art Institute in Finland supported by a Fulbright Fellowship in 1991-92 and an American-Scandinavian Foundation grant in 1993. Aho has had solo exhibitions in various museums including the New Britain Museum of American Art, CT, the Hood Museum of Art, Hanover, NH, Currier Museum of Art, NH. In 2009, Aho was elected National Academician of the National Academy Museum. He lives and works in Saxtons River, Vermont. 

Christian Corcelle’s artwork has been exhibited throughout the United States, China, Vietnam, Peru, and Iceland. Her prints are in private and public collections, including the Museum of Fine Arts, the Boston Public Library, the Art Complex Museum, the Contemporary Art Center, the Vietnam Fine Arts Association in Hanoi, the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou, China,and Universidade Feevale in Novo Hamburgo, Brazil. She has taught workshops and classes at the Maud Morgan CenterShepherd Print Studiothe Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University, and Framingham State University.

Keenan Derby is an Atlanta, GA native, currently living and working in Los Angeles, California. In addition to studying at the International School of Painting, Drawing and Sculpture, Montecastello di Vibio in Italy, Derby received his MFA from Boston University and graduated Cum Laude with a BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art. He has exhibited in galleries nationally, including Craig Krull Gallery in Santa Monica, CA, Trestle Gallery in Brooklyn, NY, and at the 2017 Art Market San Francisco art fair. He specializes in painting with acrylic, sand, and oil, and his work is included in private collections across the country. 

Daniel Herr received his MFA from Boston University and has exhibited his work in various galleries including Safe Gallery, New York; Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects, New York; Last Projects, Hollywood; Hamill Gallery, Boston; Inside/Out Art Museum, Beijing; Airplane, Bushwick, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Santiago, Chile. He has been an artist-in-residence at Estudio Nómada, Barcelona, Inside/Out Museum, Beijing, and Molten Capital in Santiago, Chile. He lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

Born in Texas of Iraqi/Israeli background, Ariel Basson Freiberg has a MFA in painting from Boston University and a BA from Smith College. She has had multiple solo shows and including exhibitions at Miller Yezerski Gallery, Dartmouth College, Tufts Art Gallery, Danforth Museum, Montserrat College of Art and the Art Center of Macedonia. Her work is reviewed in ARTnews, Boston Globe, Big Red and Shiny, and featured in Modern Painters for the Tenot Foundation Bursary for the residency, Camac in France. She received a Vermont Studio Center Fellowship in 2015. This year, "Amnesia" will be the cover of Definitions of Feminine Post Conflict Spaces. In addition, performance and installation, love like salt, was featured at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. 

Wilhelm Neusser was born in Cologne, Germany. From 1997 to 2001 he studied at the Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Karlsruhe with Professors Gerd van Dülmen und Harald Klingelhöller. He was also a guest student in art history and theory at the Hochschule für Gestaltung Karlsruhe with Professors Hans Belting und Siegfried Gohr. Neusser´s work has been widely exhibited and he has received numerous awards and fellowships including Artist Research Trust (A.R.T.) Fellowship, Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, VT, 2015; MASS MoCA Studio Progam, North Adams, MA, 2017.

Soo Sunny Park received her B.F.A. in painting and sculpture from Columbus College of Art and Design in Columbus, Ohio and a M.F.A. in sculpture from Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. After a residency at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, ME (2000), she worked in St. Louis, Missouri as an installation artist and as a Lecturer at the Washington University School of Art. In 2001, Park was selected as the River Front Times “Best of 2001, Sculptor of St. Louis.” She is a recipient of a Joan Mitchell M.F.A. Grant, the 19th Annual Michigan Fine Arts Competition Grand Prize, the Helen Foster Barnett Prize from the National Academy Museum, New York, NY (2008), and The Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center Fellowship (2010).

Anna Schuleit Haber has been a fellow at the MacDowell Colony, Bogliasco, Blue Mountain Center, The Hermitage, Yaddo, Banff, and a visiting artist/guest lecturer at Brown University, MIT, Smith College, Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, The New School, Brandeis, University of Michigan, McGill, RISD, Boston University, Pratt, Bowdoin, and Syracuse University. Her writings have appeared in the Virginia Quarterly Review, The Believer, the Massachusetts Review, Agni, and in Urban Infill, the journal of the Cleveland Urban Design Center. She was recently embedded in a small-town newsroom where she staged a serial 'take-over' of 26 front pages in collaboration with typographers from around the world, poets, writers, journalists, local citizens and students. Upcoming projects revolve around seriality and memory, and include commissions in the city of Copenhagen (DK) and other architectural settings in the U.S. Her works are included in private collections in the U.S., Europe, Asia, and Australia, as well as in the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. She is based in New Orleans and New Hampshire.


Where to Find Public Art in Boston

While you can always catch dozens of great exhibitions throughout SoWa's thriving gallery district, today we want to highlight the art popping up around Boston. These public art pieces are a must see, installed from Commonwealth Ave to the Seaport and the Emerald Necklace:

1. Now + There Open House

Open House is a public installation by Boston- born artist Liz Glynn. The piece transforms the Commonwealth Avenue Mall into the ruins of a ballroom reminiscent of a nineteenth century, upscale living space, all the while providing commentary on the societal exclusivity that have constructed and continue to reconstruct. “With this revision, the artist invites the public to enjoy a previously exclusive interior space that is now open and accessible to all.”

Located at 490 and 499 Commonwealth Avenue Mall, Kenmore Square in Boston. The complete installation will be in place through November 4. Presented by Now + There and made possible by the Public Art Fund.

Photos from Now + There and Ryan McMahon.

2. Fog x FLO

In celebration of the 20th anniversary of Boston’s Emerald Necklace Conservatory, “Fog x FLO introduces park visitors to the internationally renowned 'fog sculptures' of Japanese artist Fujiko Nakaya. These five sculptures mark five decades of Nakaya's career and complement Frederick Law Olmsted’s  enduring designs for the Emerald Necklace parks.”  This outdoor art installation was curated by Boston's Jen Mergel. The sculptures will be on view through October 31st, 2018 at Clemente Field, Back Bay Fens; Leverett Pond, Olmsted Park; Brookline, Jamaica Pond; Hunnewell Hillside, Arnold Arboretum; and Overlook Ruins, Franklin Park. You can navigate this public art presentation via the mobile web application at or by the directions in this link:

Photography: Melissa Ostrow

3. Carving Out Fresh Options: Shara Hughes at the Rose Kennedy Greenway

In partnership with deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Brooklyn-based artist Shara Hughes has created her first large-scale mural at the Rose Kennedy Greenway. Carving Out Fresh Options uses bold colors and perspectives to create a fictional landscape that contrasts those of the surrounding city of Boston.

On View May 18, 2018 - May 31, 2019

Shara Hughes, Carving Out Fresh Options, 2018, Mural, 70 x 76 feet, Courtesy of the Greenway Conservancy. Photo credit: Todd Mazer Photography

Press Release: Rena Detrixhe, Red Dirt Rug

Installation Preview Dates: August 28 – August 31, 2018 (Open to the public)
Opening Reception: Friday, September 7, 6-9 pm
Exhibition dates: September 5 - 30, 2018

Rena Detrixhe presses designs into a Red Dirt Rug installation. Photo by: Mark Andrus

Abigail Ogilvy Gallery is proud to introduce the site-specific installation, Red Dirt Rug by Rena Detrixhe. Self identified as a hunter-gatherer, Detrixhe explores and analyzes history and the effect of human impact on our soil. Originally from Kansas, the artist now lives and works in Tulsa, Oklahoma, an area of the country that has been rapidly altered in the past century. Detrixhe began developing this body of work in 2016, as a result of her residency with the Tulsa Artist Fellowship. Red Dirt Rug is created from soil collected in central Oklahoma. Once transported to her studio in Tulsa, the artist spends hours finely grinding and sifting the earth into a soft, red dust. Standing in front of Red Dirt Rug, visitors might find their perception changes. The differences between outside and indoors, past and present become blurred, or perhaps they even merge. According to Detrixhe, “Red dirt symbolizes grit, perseverance, sorrow, pain, spirit, resilience. While it is rooted here in Oklahoma, I believe it has national implications.”

Rena Detrixhe’s work is both meticulous and ephemeral. Detrixhe has intimate connections with her materials and she works to understand their properties through process and careful labor. Prior to working with red dirt, she has created drawings and objects from seeds, ice, dried crabapple fruits, resin droplets emulating water, and a variety of household objects. Red Dirt Rug is heavy with metaphors and historical significance. The work is both a meditation of our past and the frame for our future, prompting deeper thinking about our world. For Detrixhe, “Landscapes have memory, places have memory, the earth has memory. There is a reason we say something happened on our home soil. Soil has a memory, too.”

Detail of previous installation of Red Dirt Rug. Photo by: Mark Andrus 

The significance of Detrixhe’s Red Dirt Rug goes beyond the piece’s original location. The artist illuminates questions that can be asked about the histories and geographies of land in the United States at large. When reflecting on the meaning of the artwork, Detrixhe explains, “I’m not sure that a single work of art can adequately represent the multitude of complicated histories,” she said. “But if any material can hold all of those things in it, it would be soil, earth.” Iterations of Red Dirt Rug have been previously displayed in a number of states throughout the Midwest, in Virginia and now in Boston.

This installation is a unique artwork that will only be displayed for the duration of the exhibition, holding the harsh and powerful reality that it will inevitably be swept away. Detrixhe works the entirety of the four-day installation, with visitors welcomed to step into the gallery and view the slow, deliberate mark making through careful gestures. The artwork provides a distinct opportunity to allow for a more nuanced space of consideration between the person and the landscape, reminding us of the preciousness of the earth just below our feet. By bringing the dirt inside, the earth attempts to reclaim and reinforce its presence and importance.

While the implications of the artwork are environmental, Detrixhe allows the audience to come to their own conclusions in regard to meaning and impact. Red Dirt Rug encourages the viewer to consider the question: moving forward, is there an alternative to how we, as a culture, relate to our land and the histories it holds?

Detrixhe received her BFA from the University of Kansas in 2013. She has exhibited in museums and galleries across the United States and is the recipient of numerous awards including a scholarship to attend the prestigious art school at Hongik University in Seoul, South Korea and a two-year studio residency with Charlotte Street Foundation in Kansas City, Missouri. Recent exhibitions include Ephemera at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art in Overland Park, KS, and a solo exhibition at the Philbrook Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In 2017 she received both the public vote and juried vote awards in the time-based category for her work Red Dirt Rug at ArtPrize Nine in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Detrixhe has spent the past two years as a Tulsa Artist Fellow in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Originally from Kansas, the artist now lives and works in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Completed Red Dirt Rug. Photo by: Mark Andrus

Completed Red Dirt Rug. Photo by: Mark Andrus