By Mary Byrom

Last year, painter Erik Koeppel left New York City’s big art scene behind. He moved to a small town surrounded by the picturesque White Mountain National Forest. Yet far from disappearing from the art market’s radar, he is becoming better known as art lovers and collectors find their way to his secluded New Hampshire studio.

This is a surprise to the young artist, who, in looking to the past for inspiration, took a bold step from the norm in today’s art world.

Koeppel speaks in long, thoughtful sentences. He is a contemplative person, a thinker. He discusses the great thinkers in history, Plato and Socrates. He talks about the great artists of the past, the mastery of their art and the different ages they lived in. He speaks about the beauty and the level of their endeavors.

To keep his mind clear and focused on painting in the style of the masters of the past, he limits his exposure to all the fast track media we are pummeled with daily. He does not watch TV. He limits his time on the computer. Painting comes first every day before other tasks are addressed. He is living in a wild place slowing down to the speed of nature, immersing himself in the rhythm and mood of the subject he paints.

Rejecting ‘Contemporary Art’

The group Koeppel most identifies with in style and content is the Hudson River School. This group of landscape painters, active in the mid-19th century, had an aesthetic vision influenced by a romantic perspective of the American landscape; where humans and nature coexisted peacefully.

As the American wilderness was being rapidly lost to settlement, Hudson River School artists set out to capture images of the remaining undeveloped lands. This group of artists believed that nature in all of its varied moods was a manifestation of God. They traveled and often painted in the Catskills, the Adirondack Mountains, the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and the wilderness of Maine.

Koeppel received a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in 2002.

“At that school I butted heads a lot,” he said. “I found a lot of people who said that what I wanted to do was too nostalgic or sentimental for a time of art … that no longer represents our culture today.”

“I believe in God,” he said. “Our spiritual experience is predominately with nature—I think that it would be very easy to say that most of the greatest art that human beings have created deal with spiritual thinking. … Inevitably that search for truth is revealing of a unifying principle. Either the universe is just a swirling of atoms or there is an order in it, and that order is beautiful…

Read the rest of the story on The Epoch Times.

Featured Image: “Winter in Jackson,” oil on canvas, Hudson River School, Erik Koeppel.


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