“One thing that persists from the beginning of naturalistic representation to our current cultural moment is the dialectic between the drive to see and the desire to be seen. If observational painting retains any special urgency today, it must partly be to see people and histories yearning to be seen.”
For forty-seven years, Scott Noel’s prolific studio practice has contained multiple branches of representational painted inquiry including narrative, still life, landscape, and portraiture. What binds his oeuvre together is not so much his chosen subjects, but a formal connection and consistent painting sensibility. His monumental, narrative paintings are at times heroic expressions of genius that span generations, cultures, mythologies, literatures, and more. Yet, in his portraiture, Scott underscores the importance of human interaction and intimate contact while maintaining a mastery of material and skill.
In Portraits, Noel delights in sensual and sophisticated surfaces while conveying the beauty that can be embraced through perception. In these works, both hired models and friends are depicted. For Noel, portraying the likeness of a figure is unique as it creates an ephemeral yet precious communion between the artist as the “seer” and the subject as the “seen”.
Noel carefully balances his interest in the sitters themselves with his hunger for the experience of painting. There is a negotiation in the studio while Noel tests his sitter’s openness, maintaining a lively conversation while laying down the paint. What transpires is an act of mutual trust. The model shares both their physical form and a piece of their internal truth, while Noel is gifted an opportunity to archive this shared experience.
Scott Noel began teaching and exhibiting in Philadelphia in 1980, after completing undergraduate study at Washington University in Saint Louis in 1978. Since then, he has mounted over 30 solo exhibitions at galleries, universities and museums, as well as many group shows. His solo shows have appeared at the State Museum in Harrisburg, the University of Virginia, the Bowery Gallery, the Painting Center and fifteen exhibitions at the More Gallery, Mangel Art Gallery and here at Gross McCleaf gallery where he is represented.
Noel has curated exhibitions for museums, including The Evidence of the Senses at the Woodmere Art Museum in 1990 and Imaginative Affinities: Echoes of Edwin Dickinson in Contemporary American Painting at PAFA in 2002. He has also written catalog essays for peers and forbears, including Lennart Anderson, Larry Day, Rose Naftulin and Sangram Majumdar. Noel’s paintings are included in numerous private, public, and corporate collections. He has received grants from the Bader Foundation, the