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  • Stanley Goldstein

Stanley Goldstein: Catching Time

Updated: Mar 22, 2023

Interview and Feature


Jane at Twilight (1993)

Oil on canvas

50” x 72”



Winter (2016)

Acrylic on linen

39” x 50”



Anna’s Back (1989)

Oil on canvas

82” x 50”



December (2022)

Acrylic on bristol

11” x 9.5”



The Road (2020)

Acrylic on linen

40” x 53”



Molly’s Back (1990)

Oil on linen

49” x 30”



Park Tunnel (2022)

Acrylic on bristol

11” x 14”



Inverness (2019)

Oil on panel

16” x 20”



The Dog in the Hall (2016)

Acrylic on Arches

42” x 27”



Laura Late Afternoon (2022)

Acrylic on bristol

12” x 7.5”



At Table (2006)

Oil on linen

28” x 38”



Night Swim (2019)

Oil on linen

48” x 55”


Interview Questions

Your oeuvre includes many domestic scenes. What is it that draws you to the home?


I have always loved the intimacy of painting the world around me. For years I painted the landscape and interiors of my studio. When my son was born my life changed. I was home much more and my identity was expanding. I was now a father. I needed to find a way to incorporate this new sense of my place in the world into my art. Painting domesticity became a reflection on the complex and often wonderful emotions and story of family life. I began to chronicle my son growing up and the intimacy of our relationship; this became very important to me. Memorializing the very fleeting period of childhood has allowed me to relive and dwell in this fragile time where life normally just passes us by.


Would you say that your art is more observational or expressive?


I am an observational painter, painting what I see, rarely from imagination or memory. I have experimented with painting from memory and have noticed I have a very weak visual memory. I use my visual observation to allow the unconscious to add its inevitable expression to the work through what is emphasised or left out. The nuance is where my expression lies. I am often surprised at how, as I paint the real world, the everyday becomes poetic and metaphorical; facts become ideas. As I’m painting I’m searching for the code that needs to be cracked, some abstract underpinning that drives the work --something like orange vs. blue, or deep shadows against raking light. I have the image already; the subject is clear. But there is a colour or compositional architecture I need to find that is subliminal to whatever the subject is. This structured but informal dance of color and shapes is what I look for to make the everyday job of painting an image into something thrilling and worthwhile.


How would you characterise the relationship between time and space in your work?


I deal with images that represent moments in time -- often what I think of as the 'in-between' moments. As the viewer enters the spaces in my paintings, I hope they experience that brief glimpse. Light plays a prominent role in my work and its ephemeral quality helps give that fleeting sense of time. Unlike a snapshot, paintings are slower and require sustained attention; this allows the viewer to participate in a meditation on that particular moment -- as if they are part of the scene.


Your pieces tend to feature select figures rather than crowds. Do you enjoy the intimacy of portraiture?


I have been known to paint scenes with a group of people, say, playing in an urban fountain or gathered on the beach. But it is true that even in those cases I am interested in the individual. What is their story? I spent many years in the theatre as an actor and love literature, so the intimacy and potential for character revelation keeps me painting portraits. The momentary gesture of a hand, the quiet expression on a face, the way light and shadow interplay across the figure -- all raise questions that inspire me to paint. I find intimacy with my subjects through the struggle to accurately paint the unique structures that make up a particular person.


Light appears to be a particularly important element in your compositions. At what stage in your artistic development did this become a prominent motif?


I have always painted from direct observation. In 1985, I was painting a friend I had painted many times before. She was standing in the sunlight with the light on her cap casting a shadow directly across her face, hiding part of her features. I had never let light interrupt a face before. The stunning and disruptive effect it had on me came with the realisation that her face was not my true subject. It was light! Since then I have realised that when I paint a person or an object it is the interplay of light and shadow - their transformative effects - that most engage me. Light gives the commonplace mystery and poetry.


What made you realise that you wanted to be an artist?


I started drawing my friends and family as a small child, according to my mother. Something of a nervous habit in a way, it kept me calm and busy; then, in school, my ability and interest became part of my identity. “Class artist”. The idea of being an artist has always been a part of me. I toyed with being an actor in high school and as a young adult, but I found being in charge of creating my own world, being self-reliant creatively was more compelling. I never expected to support myself with my art, but my life has evolved in that direction. Making paintings has felt like a big part of my way of getting through life. As one of my mentors, Charles Garabedian, once said: “It’s just a great thing to do!”


Which movements in art history resonate with you?


I was profoundly influenced by Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. Modernism has fascinated me, with artists like Malevich, Mondrian and Matisse and, later, the Abstract-Expressionists. The Ashcan School with Hopper and Bellows has strongly influenced my work, alongside individual artists like Howard Hodgkin, David Hockney and Alice Neel. The Bay Area Figurative movement has been an important part of my growth. Sargent, Velazquez, Goya and Rubens have played a significant role as well. Also I am amazed at how many wonderful painters are working today, in representation, abstraction and wild combinations of the two.



About Stanley Goldstein:


Stanley Goldstein is a native Californian. He is a realist painter, representing large and small-scale scenes of everyday life as well as city scenes, interiors, and landscapes. His work follows from the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist tradition of capturing moments of domestic life - as in Edouard Vuillard's work - as well as Americans such as Edward Hopper, George Bellows and Fairfield Porter.


In 1976 he received a fellowship to the Yale Summer School of Music and Art and then earned his BA from UC Santa Barbara’s College of Creative Studies later that year.


He has shown his paintings widely throughout the United States and is included in many private, corporate, and public collections, including Oracle, Pfizer, and the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts in the San Francisco Fine Arts Museums. He has had solo shows in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York, including the Jeremy Stone Gallery, San Francisco; Hackett-Freedman Gallery, San Francisco; and the George Billis Galleries in New York and Los Angeles. He has exhibited in group shows in, among others, the San Francisco Art Institute; the California College of Arts and Crafts; the Triton Museum, Santa Clara; and the San Francisco Palace of the Legion of Honor.


He has taught at UCSB, City College, Fort Mason, Idyllwild Arts, and the San Francisco Arts Institute. In 2003 he was featured in an article, with his art appearing on the cover of Arts and Antiques Magazine, and has appeared in Southwest Art, 7 X 7, Artweek, and American Art Collector. In 2011 he received a Sustainable Arts Foundation Grant.


He currently lives in San Francisco with his wife, Laura. His son currently attends college at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

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