Painter of Light

Adam Umbach was born to paint. It wasn’t until he saw the film of the autobiography of Gerhardt Richter, did he realizing that Richter’s strokes spoke of light, as beautiful as strokes of DNA, a DNA that Umbach builds his paintings upon.

Light, color and space define Umbach’s work. Born in
Chicago, he was drawn to art at an early age.
Instinctively he felt that the heartland of America at
the head of Lake Michigan lacked light, lacked the ‘splendor of light’.

After University he moved first to Maine and then to East Hampton, finally drawn to the light on the Eastern shore of Long Island, as have artists in the 19 th Century from Thomas Moran to Childe Hassam and William Merritt Chase and in the 20 th Century William de Kooning and Perle Fine to Ross Bleckner and so many painters before him. Umbach’s subject matter is often childhood subject matter memorializing his close ties to his beloved grandmother.

The ground, the very expressive surface, and tone of Umbach’s paintings reminds the viewer of 15 th century Flemish art and particularly of Jan Van Eyck, Umbach shares his great emphasis on naturalism, and realism. Through his developments in the use of oil paint Van Eyck achieved a new level of virtuosity. Van Eyck was highly influential and his techniques and style were adopted and refined by the Early Netherlandish painters. Surely, Adam Umbach is exploring the exquisite depth of tone achieved by his method of dragging layers of paint, one atop the next to produce his distinctly full bodied resonant color.

It has been noted, that Adam Umbach’s technique allows the inner color in the painted composition to emerge fully, much like Dan Flavin’s compositions with fluorescent light have caused him to be dubbed the ‘Colorist with Light’, both Adam Umbach and Dan Flavin produce works with a deep richness and warmth, brought forth through the organic, kinetic effect of light.

-Janet Lehr, 2018