Eric Uhlir: Armida & Rinaldo

Artists: Eric Uhlir

Exhibition Information:

May 9, 2024 - July 3, 2024
Opening Reception:
May 9th, 2024 6-8pm
Artist in attendance

View Press Release

View Artist CV

View Catalogue

Winston Wächter Fine Art, New York is excited to announce Armida & Rinaldo, a series of new paintings by Eric Uhlir and the artist’s first solo exhibition with the gallery. These lush, large-scale paintings combine references to art history, pop culture, and Renaissance poetry in swirling compositions that reflect the cyclical nature of human history.

The series is a reimagining of the legend of Armida and Rinaldo, a 16th-century epic poem set during the First Crusade. Wildly popular at the time, the story inspired countless Baroque artworks, yet this tale has all but vanished from our collective memory today. As the story goes, the sorceress Armida lures Roman soldiers with her charms to neglect their military duty. Armida falls in love with Rinaldo mid-attack, and steals him away to her idyllic garden. In this exhibition, Uhlir embraces the tension between figuration and gestural abstraction to explore age-old themes of love and duty through a modern lens.

In Uhlir’s nuanced exploration, Armida serves as a dynamic symbol of love’s complex power and the delicate balance of identity, while Rinaldo embodies the desire to balance a personal sense of duty amid societal pressures. Uhlir adopts the grand scale of history painting, while drawing inspiration from a wide array of visual material including pop culture, gay erotica, images of 1960s biker culture, and art historical canons. Looking at Eric Uhlir’s work is like flipping through pulp magazines and art history books. Images blur together on the edge of expressive abstraction, where a chaotic landscape can evoke both a literal battlefield and the conflicting emotions of inner tumult.

These paintings reward close looking, inviting viewers to find their own narratives among the compositions, where figures emerge amid a bucolic palette of blues, pinks, and greens. The lavish scene in the triptych, Beyond the point we know as the world’s end depicts characters in repose, set in a sort of hedonistic Garden of Eden. The images in the triptych panels don’t quite match up, like the idea of an idyllic past that one yearns to return to, but that might not have ever really existed. In drawing from materials throughout history, Uhlir considers the spiraling repetition of human history, and its destiny to continually repeat itself. By positioning age-old characters in today’s world, Armida & Rinaldo explores themes of identity, conflict, and desire, and boldly asserts the power of painting as storytelling to convey human experience.

Eric Uhlir (American, b. 1979) grew up in Southern California and earned his BFA from the University of Texas at Austin in 2003. His work is both figurative and abstract, examining the Anthropocene in the context of art history. Uhlir has received numerous awards and recognitions such as The Boynes Artist Award and the Washington Commission on the Arts and Humanities’ Fellowship. His work has been written up in the Washington Post and is held in private collections internationally. He exhibited at IA&A at Hilyer in Washington, DC in 2019 and with Caitlin Berry Fine Art at Culture House in 2021. He lives and works in Washington, DC.