Charles Gniech "Inner Circle" 1996, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 60"Purdue University - Northwest/NorthCentral in Westville, Indiana—has recently acquired a number of my large-scale paintings for their eclectic and edgy contemporary Fine Art Collection. Eight canvases were chosen from three bodies of work—spanning more than twenty years. Five of the selected pieces come from the “Sanctuary” series of 1996-97.
There are more than four hundred stone circles found throughout Great Britain. The Sanctuary series was inspired by my time spent exploring some of these monuments. The prehistoric structures became a bit of an obsession during that period of my life. I would travel to the UK two or three times each year... spend a few days in London and then hop a train to—what seemed like—the middle of nowhere. Some of the sites were relatively easy to come upon while others were so far removed from civilization that I would find myself on top of a mountain or in a secluded meadow, only to be visited by an occasional herd of sheep. There was a feeling of peace and tranquility at many of these locations—something more than the power of the beautiful surroundings on which the structures were erected. The body of work titled "Sanctuary" was the result of these experiences. And the people that I met were life changing.
I define the paintings produced during the late 90s as “Structural Abstraction.” Although I would render realistic depictions of the structures on location, they were reinterpreted in my studio with exaggerated angles and dramatic lighting. The monuments were translated through planar analysis resulting in faceted structures of mass within dramatic landscapes.
Charles Gniech "Geometric Sarsens" 1996, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 48"
As of April 2018, the “Sanctuary” paintings will be presented at Purdue University - Northwest /North Central Campus’ in Westville, Indiana. The collection can be seen scattered throughout the two campuses. I’ve been told that the presentation looks nothing like a typical “Corporate Fine Art Collection.”