The first exhibition of 2012 will be the artwork of a local artist, Richard Chamberlain. In the late 1980s, Chamberlain began a series of paintings dealing with his experiences in Vietnam. Called The Year of the Sheep, which refers to the Chinese calendar designation for 1967, the year he spent in Southeast Asia, the series is comprised of black-and-white images that are reminiscent of abstracted landscapes. They are markedly different from Chamberlain’s other paintings, which are far more traditional, softly colored interiors, still lifes, and figures.
More than 20 years after his tour of duty in the Marines, Chamberlain still found himself haunted by his war experiences and sought counseling to deal with his anger and depression. A therapist suggested he use his skill as an artist to work through these emotions. What began as bands of black and white slowly emerged into these stark visions, where the viewer becomes drawn into the conflict. “The borders of good and evil are not always clear,” says Chamberlain. “I realized we weren’t fighting the enemy. We were fighting nature – the land, the heat, the disease, the monsoons,” he said. “This was the real enemy.” And this meant that we were opposite the side of nature, which is scary, because nature is usually thought of as good.”
The exhibition is poignantly titled, “The Year of the Sheep” and will be on view in the Millner Gallery from January 10 – July 8, 2012. The exhibition consists of approximately 22 of these abstracted landscapes paintings. Come visit The Cummer to see this insightful exhibition and see for yourself one man’s journey through darkness and light.