Stephen Westfall has been exploring and reacting to the intricate designs of the medieval cosmatesque floors that decorate many Roman churches and which make extensive use of triangles of colored marble. He has also been deeply impressed by the muscular geometries of ancient Roman mosaics and Baroque marble floors, Modernist Italian graphic design, and the distinctive lines and grids of Rationalist architecture.
Stephen Westfall’s show at the American Academy was his most completely integrated exhibition of paintings on canvas, wall paintings, and works on paper to date. Along with three large scale wall paintings, Westfall presented four paintings on canvas, which were completed during the first half of his stay in Rome, and two gouaches.
The interspersing of scale and surface between the formats was a direct response to the flow of space in the gallery—in such a way that the resonance between the images and the historical environment of Rome will also be felt as a concrete condition of the specific architectural features of the site.
Westfall’s color and patterns tend to project forward into space as much as they open up to illusionist pictorial depths. The two rooms of the AAR Gallery were felt as salons for the contemplation of joyful and historically resonant geometries and optical spatial dynamics.
Installation view. Photographs by Rachele Biagini.
Stephen Westfall is an artist. He is Associate Professor in the Visual Arts at the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, and Painting Co-chair at the Milton Avery School of the Arts at Bard College.