My morning meditations are rich in their clarity and urgency, I feel it is important to record these intuitive flashes so as not to lose them. In them, I see painting as a ritual - the making of an object, sacred and profound; the material’s raw substances; and the substrate of the object as an idea of painting…
Foad Satterfield -
Drawing upon deep influences from the en plain air tradition, Impressionism, Abstract Expressionism and Northern California landscape painting, Satterfield has devoted decades to developing his own singular approach to near-abstract landscapes. In an intuitive reversal, Satterfield defines his style of painting as “abstractions with landscapes superimposed.” Born in Orange, Texas in 1945, Satterfield spent his formative years in Lake Charles, Louisiana and rural Texas. As a child, Satterfield was taken with these distinctive natural environments, fueling a lifelong interest in experimentation with landscape. Satterfield began his formal training intending to study textiles and pursue fashion design. Although his interests ultimately evolved towards painting, he continues to view the materiality of textiles as a key reference point, noting that:
When a garment is fashioned from cloth, the woof and warp provide structure for support. Similarly, brushstrokes, seen and unseen, build a foundation, providing an intuitive atmosphere that confounds the limited imagination as it opens to greater moments of discovery and revelation.
Despite the absence of narration, Satterfield considers his work to be thematically rich. As meditations on the vitality and continuity of the natural world, his works point toward notions of elegy, resilience and remembrance. Moreover, Satterfield values the salutary potential of his work with regards to personal, historical and collective trauma:
I am deeply moved by the suffering experienced by individuals, regions, and nations, and I am profoundly concerned about the destruction of our shared planet. As a black man subjected to harsh Jim Crow denials and hatred, forced to participate in the Vietnam War, with limited opportunity to engage and be part of a larger conversation…I am deeply committed to contributing to the mitigation, amelioration of the pain and ravaging of our planet and its people.
These dimensions of Satterfield’s work are perhaps most overt in his Woodfox paintings, which were inspired by the life of Albert Woodfox. Born in the Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans, Woodfox joined the Black Panther party while imprisoned at the Angola State Penitentiary, the “bloodiest prison in the South.” Unjustly convicted of murder in 1974, Woodfox served over 41 years in solitary confinement - longer than any other prisoner in U.S. history. Woodfox was released in 2019 at the age of 69. His memoir, Solitary, was a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award. Of his Heartwood series, Satterfield has said, “I dedicate this body of work to all of my Ancestors and to Albert Woodfox. Consider these paintings conversations with these people who, in the face of injustice and hardship, found great inner strength and triumphed.” The title of the current exhibition was similarly inspired by Woodfox’s release.
Foad Satterfield (b. 1945, Orange, TX) is an Oakland-based painter. Born in rural Texas in 1945, Satterfield spent his formative areas in Lake Charles, Louisiana. He received his BFA from Southern University in Baton Rouge. After a compulsory period serving with the U.S. Army during the Vietnam war, he received his MFA in Painting from Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge in 1971.
Satterfield has held the position of Professor of Art at the Dominican University of California in San Rafael, CA from 1980 to 2018, and he remains Professor Emeritus. He also served as Head Curator of the San Marcos Gallery at the Dominican University of California from 1980 to 2013.
Previous exhibitions including the following venues: Maybaum Gallery (San Francisco); Saint Mary’s College Museum (CA); The Studio Shop (Burlingame, CA); 555 12th St. (Oakland, CA); San Marco Gallery (San Rafael, CA); Triton Museum (Santa Clara, CA); Joyce Gordon Gallery (Oakland, CA); Richmond Art Center (Richmond, CA); Studio 57 (Emeryville, CA); Porter Troupe Gallery (San Diego, CA); and Hatley Martin Gallery (San Francisco).