Doug Kent - White Face Cat© - 1991
(Mixed media on wood)
You go on an old Indian Hill on Martha's Vineyard make a left make a right and follow the sound of hungry new born birds and you might find yourself at the studio of Doug Kent. Doug embodies the word, concept -- painter. He is an Artist. His paintings have manifested a profound vision for more than 50 years, exemplified by simple, elegant line, grace and harmony. His subjects may be said to be quotidian, but they are unlike anything you have ever experienced. A cat, pig, wolf, goat emanating from the brush of Mr. Kent become myth. You may think you know the object that is being presented to you, but a steadier gaze informs you that a parallel universe is revealed. Though familiar, it awakens a heretofore-veiled cosmos. A moment of time, a moment of space describes Mr. Kent's paintings.
I have followed Mr. Kent's career for more than 30 years. He relentlessly deepens his palette. Upon returning to Martha's Vineyard, I got in touch with the artist to reacquaint myself with his work and to see where his journey had brought him. He invited me to his studio in a junction of enchanted wood. His studio is a converted barn with high ceilings and an industrial heater to keep him warm in the winter. Upon entering I was immediately struck by the new series that Mr. Kent was manifesting. He called it his "Mind Travel" series. It was a radical departure from decades of previous work. These paintings had no subject, but rather appeared to manifest directly from the artist's soul.
Doug Kent Mind Travel Series B1. 2012 Used by permission.
He told me a story of when he went to the local Buddhist center and sat in a circle at the feet of the Rinpoche. Filled with reverence and a thirst for knowledge, one student asked about the Buddhist concept of what "mind travel" looked like. In the Buddhist tradition, mind is eternal. Our bodies, personalities die, but our essential Being, the "mind," lives forever and reincarnates. After a few moments with everyone waiting for the secret to emerge from shadows, the Rinpoche responded that no one knew how the image of the traveling mind appears. Upon hearing this answer, Mr. Kent saw a series of paintings appear in his mind. He went home soon thereafter and drew/painted on a small scale a series that he called the Mind Travel series. He then proceeded to paint each part of the series onto large-scale canvasses, thus further exploring his image.
When I saw what he had done, I immediately was reminded of quantum physics and the concept of time travel. A friend of Mr. Kent, art historian, Susan E. Thompson, said that these paintings reminded her of a comet. Upon hearing her unfurl this image, I immediately understood that not only had Mr. Kent captured the essence of mind, but its quicksilver fluidity, as well. As with all of his paintings, these were beautiful, elegant and to the point. If you hadn't been told, you may not know what they specifically represented in the artist's mind, but you would recognize a journey remote and near. Ancient and present. Far, primeval, because we normally do not access this intense degree of manifestation. Near, present, because these images resonate profoundly. The mind travels.
The painter talks about how the application of textured paint determines his singular voyage. We who encounter his work are not merely a passive viewer. We witness a universal apparition, as we are absorbed into his palette and form.
Mr. Kent will tell you that he is merely the channel through whom the painting manifests. Perhaps, but a finely tuned instrument is he. These paintings invoke ultrasonic movement into a new incarnation. There they are, standing in front of us provoking us to encounter our own immortality through Mr. Kent's canvas, color and form.
Mr. Kent has confirmed that his latest series is a break from his previous work. Nevertheless, he retains a meticulous, free quality. The viewer soars above the horizon in the presence of the artist's paint.
Like any other human being he has encountered lows and highs, harmony and dissonance. Like any body, his is subject to the burdens of age. Throughout it all he continues to paint on the highest level. Doug Kent is Painter. He is a living treasure.
Doug Kent is collected internationally. He is in several corporate collections, such as Prudential, Fujifilm and Citicorp. Many high profile individuals collect his work.
If you wish to see more of Doug Kent's paintings, go to his website -- http://www.dougkentpaintings.com/index.php
Doug Kent in his studio
Photo by Lama Yeshe Drolma, used by permission.