Monday, June 7, 2021

Richard Laurent - "Social Justice" at the Georgetown Art Center

Richard Laurent, Tower of Babel, oil on canvas, 36 x 36"

An Exhibition of paintings titled “Social Justice” by Chicago Artist, Richard Laurent, will open at the Georgetown Art Center on June 18, 2021. This exhibition of conceptual paintings references today’s social challenges. Laurent masterfully uses symbol to offer an approachable, yet thought-provoking, perspective. 

Having worked with Laurent on The Art of Influence: Breaking Criminal Traditions initiative for more than a decade, I’ve gained some insight into the work of this creative genius. His brilliance is not limited to his ability to perfectly render a form with a swipe of his brush. His brilliance stems from the complexity of his message. Each of Laurent’s canvases offers a puzzle for the viewer to solve. But, as always, the viewer will see what they want to see. 

There are still places in the world where women are expected to fill their mouths with stones prior to leaving the home. This practice is intended to hinder the ability to speak. In some cases, the stones are inserted for her. It is believed that the tone of a woman’s voice will seduce men. The stones will quiet women from having a voice—an opinion. In these cultures—women are held responsible for the cruel and brutal actions of the male population. And if a woman reports crimes against her, she may be stoned alive. 

Gender inequality is but one of the human rights issues addressed in Laurent’s “Social Justice” exhibition. “Tower of Babel” references the repression of women. The painting offers the viewer many clues to his message of inequality—the most obvious is the title. Laurent begins by using a symbol that defines a hinderance of communication. The Tower of Babel is a biblical story which defines a time when there was a unified human race—all speaking the same language. They decided to build a city—in Southern Mesopotamia—and a tower to reach heaven. God wasn’t thrilled with this idea, so God muddled their speech to hinder communication and scattered humanity throughout the world. 

Laurent’s image presents us with his version of the legendary tower. The centralized twisting tower seems to act as a straitjacket for the unempowered—almost lifeless—head that crowns the structure. A cold and expressionless stare highlights the hollowness of degradation. Stones pave the way for the Assyrian winged bull which seems to guard the figure. Legend has it that the intimidating winged bull, guarded a city gate. It represented the power of the Assyrian King. A second masklike face flanks the central figure—it’s eyes a painful red. Then, floating to the right, is a box that contains a reaching hand, confined within a sphere. Additional stones seem to act as clouds in the upper portion of the composition. 

This series of paintings created by Richard Laurent, are meant to raise awareness of global human rights atrocities. By using the beauty of art to raise awareness of these difficult topics, we can begin dialogue and support those affected by encouraging change—change that can only come from within each culture, change that will be successful when supported by the world. 

The paintings of Richard Laurent will be on exhibition through July 19, 2021. The Artist's Reception is scheduled for Saturday, June 19 from 4-6pm. Georgetown Art Center will also be hosting an Artist Talk event on June 20th at 2pm. The Georgetown Art Center is located at 816 S Main Street in Georgetown, Texas 78626. Entry is free. 

Richard Laurent, Arcidia, oil on canvas, 36 x 36"

Oil painter, Richard Laurent, works out of his studio in the historic Fine Arts Building, Chicago. Originally from Colorado, Richard received his formal visual training at Chicago’s Institute of Design-the Neu Bauhaus School. He has continued his professional studies worldwide. His paintings have been featured in numerous national exhibitions including Oil Painters of America, Salon International Museum of Contemporary Masters, and Chicago Artists Interpret Shakespeare. He has also shown in gallery settings including George Billis, New York; Gallery H, Three Oaks, Michigan; Zia Gallery, Winnetka, Illinois; and Gallery Laluz, Chicago. Laurent’s paintings are included in the permanent collections of the City of Denver, City of Schaumburg, Deloitte Consulting, Encyclopaedia Britannica, The Illinois Institute of Art, Wells Fargo, Bodine Electric, and private collections. His paintings and drawings are included in two monographs: Contemporary American Painting and Contemporary American Drawing, published by Jilin Fine Arts.

The Georgetown Art Center is located at 816 South Main Street on Georgetown’s historic square. The facility opened in October of 2013. Georgetown Art Works is the 501(c)(3) Texas nonprofit organization selected by the City of Georgetown to manage the Art Center and provides innovative, intelligent exhibits and programs that promote visual literacy in the greater community. Our vision is to be nationally recognized as an arts and culture center of excellence.

The Art of Influence: Breaking Criminal Traditions:
Art can go where the law has not. It can lead public policy through the hearts and minds of artists and their audiences. The Art of Influence: Breaking Criminal Traditions is a fine art initiative that calls attention to human rights issues, which kill or maim millions of people each year yet—in some countries—aren't considered crimes. By using the beauty of art to raise awareness of these difficult topics, we can begin dialogue and support those affected by encouraging change — change that can only come from within each culture, change that will be successful when supported by the world. Learn more at:

Richard Laurent, Book of Knowledge, oil on canvas, 36 x 36"

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