Cedar City, UT - Every year, the Utah Shakespeare Festival works to capture the Bard's characters onstage. Oil Painter Richard Lance Russell does the same thing on canvas. This year, a solo exhibit of his paintings will be featured at the Festival. The paintings, depicting powerful scenes and memorable characters from Shakespeare's plays, will hang in the Randall L. Jones Theatre Gallery throughout the season, from June to October. An opening reception will be held on June 28th from 5:30-7:00 pm and Russell will be signing his work on June 29th from 12:45-1:45. Both events will be held in the Randall L. Jones Theatre. Russell's work can also be seen at his website: richardrussellart.com. He is represented by Joe Wade Fine Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Russell, a Utah native, has been drawn to Shakespeare since he saw a production of Macbeth at the Utah Shakespeare Festival when he was a teen. It was that moving performance that sparked his interest in capturing Shakespeare's characters both tragic and comic.
He finds it is the characters themselves that most interest him: "Characters like Hamlet and Cordelia are at turning points, and the choices they make forever alter their lives. The emotions that they experience are compelling on a very basic human level. Shakespeare's characters are illustrative of the human condition. We all sometimes find ourselves in situations of contradiction or confusion. We all have choices to make, and we understand how it feels to anguish over them or mourn over consequences. Shakespeare captures those moments of emotion in words, and I try to capture them in paint."
The exhibit will showcase Russell's distinctive interpretation of the Bard's works. Russell's canvases show a unique sense of focus. Viewers often note that some areas of the paintings feel more "loose" or "suggested." Russell deliberately includes these. "When the human eye observes something," he says, "it doesn't see every element of that scene equally. Our minds prioritize and categorize what we're seeing. That's one thing that gives every person a unique vision: which elements of a scene we notice. I try to represent what I perceive as the most important elements of a scene. In a narrative painting, those elements are what tell the story. That's why some parts of the painting are more defined. I'm guiding the viewer to the beauty I see in the subject or the story I see in the scene."
"Working on this exhibition with the Utah Shakespeare Festival has been a great experience," Russell said of Truth, Mirth, and Turmoil: Shakespeare Paintings by Richard Lance Russell, his upcoming one man show in Cedar City. "Everyone I've had a chance to work with: the executive director of the festival, the production manager, the costume designer, is excited about Shakespeare's work and the potential that each play holds. Whether on stage or on canvas, capturing the humor and heartbreak of Shakespeare's plays and bringing his characters to life is a passion we all share."
Tickets are on sale for the Festival's 51st season, which will run from June 21 to October 20, 2012. The eight-play season includes Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor, Titus Andronicus and Hamlet. The season will also include Alain Boubill and Claude-Michel Schönberg's epic musical Les Misérables, Friedrich Schiller's Mary Stuart, Moliére's Scapin, Christopher Sergel's adaptation of Harper Lee's classic American novel To Kill a Mockingbird, and back by popular demand Marie Jones' Stones in His Pockets. For more information and tickets visit www.bard.org or call 1-800-PLAYTIX.