Madison Cawein's alluring and engaging still life meditations blur the boundaries between realism and abstraction. With a sense of mystery and seductiveness, the masterfully- painted canvases attain dream-like power from both their often-large scale and arresting close-up perspective. Color, light and meticulous detail, combine to produce a peaceful effect of quiet transcendence from these stunning and soulful portraits of floral blossoms, glass and reflected sky.
At first glance, one might believe that Madison Cawein’s paintings encompass ideas and techniques only derived from the Photorealism movement, but upon closer look, his work reveals more than just his ability to translate reality to canvas. Although Madison uses the photograph as a way to gather information, he does not describe himself as a Photorealist artist. Cawein’s paintings reveal his ability to not only beautifully represent real life imagery to canvas, but also to interpret light in a way that creates atmosphere, mood, and elegance through unexpected abstraction. His reference photographs are often made outdoors with elements of actual landscape such as refracted or reflected fragments of sky. The natural world is his subject, but always with the recognition of our relationship to it as human beings.
Madison Cawein was born in Lexington, Kentucky in 1950. He concentrated in art history at Harvard with independent instruction in Chinese calligraphy. From there he moved on to a degree in painting at California Institute of the Arts. As the first recipient of the prestigious Bernheim Fellowship who was not primarily a photographer, he spent 1992 in residence at the Bernheim Arboretum following the seasons. He has been the recipient of several other grants over the years, including a Kentucky Arts Council Professional Assistance Award in 1994, and NEA/ Kentucky Arts Council Artists-in-Education Grants in 1975-76 and 1980-82. His work is represented in many public and private collections.