Charles Reiffel, the American Van Gogh

Charles Reiffel Credit: The Athenaeum[/caption]

Balboa Park’s San Diego Museum of Art is hosting an exhibit presenting the works of Charles Reiffel (1862-1942). Showing now until February 10, the exhibit celebrates the Post-Impressionist nature of his work, (in the same vein as Paul Cezanne and Vincent van Gogh) while acknowledging his leadership of California plein-air painting. The plein-air, outdoor aspect of working in the midst of the pastoral subject would be the driving inspiration for Reiffel’s artwork.

The exhibit is showcasing a large variety of over 80 works that span across Reiffel’s long career as a professional artist. Included with his more-well known later renditions of the sprawling landscapes, are Reiffel’s early workers and crayon sketches. Providing an insight into his emerging Post-Impressionist style as he became one of the most important Californian painters of the Twentieth Century.

Born nine years after the celebrated Dutch painter that he’s commonly compared to, Reiffel’s later works are fully rendered in the Post-Impressionist style. Much like the inspiration Van Gogh found in the vibrant light of pastoral Arles (located in the south France), the sun lit southern Californian landscape provided Reiffel with an incredibly diverse color pallet.

It’s this tenacity with his approach to color that makes Reiffel’s work so compelling. His ability to vividly capture the variations of colored highlights and shadows is complimented by the playfulness of his gestural brush strokes.

Reiffel’s landscapes are bubbling with the hues and waves of southern California color. At it’s core the exhibition captures the wonder, talent and imagination of a man enamoured with the pastoral beauty that he immersed himself in. The presence of the paintings, their color and their application gives you an impression of the passion and excitement this man felt as he created his art.

Also until February 10, the San Diego Museum of Art is hosting the “Behold, America!” exhibit. This three part show is the collaboration of three excellent museums: the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, the San Diego Museum of Art, and the Timken Museum of Art. The exhibit presented at the San Diego Museum of Art celebrates the works of American Figures, featuring portraits by influential American artist and painters. Ticket prices for access to both exhibitions can be found here.

Credit: Balboa Park