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Number of painters: 177
Last update: Saturday Sept 17, 2022

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Martha Mayer Erlebacher


Drawing on the tradition of early American painting and its roots in the classical still life tradition, Erlebacher sets up a lively dialogue between natural and man-made forms. Reminiscent of the Peale family's works of the 18th and 19th centuries, Erlebacher's interest lies in creating art that is both intellectually insightful and purely beautiful.

With almost obsessive precision, Erlebacher portrays her subjects bathed in dramatic light. Her complex arrangements of ripe fruit juxtaposed against antique redware and stoneware culled from her extensive personal collection are rigorously grouped in the artist's search for balance and beauty. The work is further informed by a tension between light and dark; the artist remains conscious of the interplay and grouping of silhouettes and shapes as well as the dissolution of forms into her shadowy backgrounds. Indeed, the works touch on abstraction in the way the objects are absorbed into the darkness against which they rest.

Nectarines (2002) is a superb example of Erlebacher's tautly balanced harmonies. Several ceramic pieces, their polished and pocked surfaces so highly rendered as to almost create the effect of trompe l'oeil are posed against brilliant nectarines and a casaba melon. Reflected light plays on the dark surfaces of the vessels while the abundant fruit are alive with bright color. The composition and lighting draw the eye across the painting in an alternating zigzag from foreground to background.

Erlebacher exhibits regularly on both coasts and her work is represented in the collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the New Jersey State Museum, among others. Erlebacher has taught and lectured extensively at the Philadelphia College of Art and the New York Academy of Art. This is her second exhibition at Hackett-Freedman Gallery.