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David Ligare’s "Primary Structures" exhibit at Hartnell College Art Gallery

September 14th, 2009

Hartnell College Gallery in Salinas is pleased to announce the first exhibition of new abstract paintings by Monterey County resident David Ligare. Several years ago the artist began a series of paintings that departed from his usual sharp-focus representationalism, but not his utilization of history. The result can be seen on exhibit in the gallery through October 8, 2009.


Ligare’s painting The Line of Apelles re-imagines what was possibly the world's first abstract painting. According to the Roman historian Pliny, the painting was the result of a contest between the ancient Greek artists Apelles and Protogenes to paint three extremely fine lines. The painting was later so highly valued that it was hung in the palace of Julius Caesar in Rome. Other paintings in the Hartnell exhibition will include minimalist images based on some of the rule-like decorative motifs from ancient Egypt and Greece.

“This is a development in my work that I didn't anticipate,” says Ligare, “to become seemingly more modern by going back even further into the Pythagorean past, making paintings that are about a world of measure and proportion wrapped in philosophy but existing for their own sake.”

Born in Oak Park, Illinois, in 1945, David Ligare moved to California with his family at the age of five. He attended Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles (now Pasadena). The artist was drafted into the Army in 1965 and spent two years at Ft. Monmouth, New Jersey as an illustrator for the Signal Corps. He was able to continue painting and began exhibiting in New York in 1966. After his discharge, Ligare moved to Big Sur.

Following an exhibition of paintings he called “Thrown Draperies” in New York in 1978, Ligare began to seriously explore narrative and allegorical paintings based on Greco-Roman mythology, history, and philosophy. Since then, the artist has had more than 30 solo exhibitions in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, London, Rome, and elsewhere. He has been included in group exhibitions all over the world and is in many museum collections in the United States and abroad. He also has been included in many art texts, such as Movements in Art Since 1945, published by Thames & Hudson. In Art Today, published by Phaidon Press, Edward Lucie-Smith writes that, “Ligare's painting, for all its physical solidity, has a conceptual basis. It makes visible in emblematic form, age-old philosophical problems.”

The Hartnell Gallery is located in the Visual Arts Facility on the main campus in Salinas off West Alisal Street. Gallery hours are Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to1 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. The public is welcome and admission is free. On-campus parking is $1 a day.

For additional information, please contact gallery director Gary Smith at 831-484-2262.