Eric Klemm wanted to become an artist from an early age. Now, at 79, he’s had countless shows with his photos. But this week he launches his first exhibit of his paintings. (Mariette Klemm/Special to the Langley Advance)

World-renowned Langley photographer emerges into expressive abstract artist

Eric Klemm’s first exhibit of his paintings opens Wednesday at Fort Gallery.

by Alex Wilks/Special to the Langley Advance

With more than 30 solo art exhibitions between Canada, the U.S.A., and Europe, Eric Klemm is no stranger to having his photography put on display.

Except this time around it’s not his photographs, but his newest collection of abstract paintings that will be exhibited at Fort Gallery.

“I really have a personal connection. It is composition, colour, and beauty that makes the difference,” the Walnut Grove resident explained, describing the feeling of his paintbrush to the canvas.

“Paintings talk to me, they don’t need an introduction or explanation. That’s how I think art needs to be and what makes them so compelling.”

Klemm grew up in Wadern, a small town in Germany by the French border. Even as a child he was fascinated by art.

“From my early childhood I wanted to become an artist,” he recounted, depicting his early job as a landscape painter.

“It was then when [I] got in touch with art, drawing, and painting.”

When he began his photography career he didn’t even own proper camera equipment, but he had perseverance and the ability to make the right connections in the industry.

“My creative energy [was] always there, [but] I am obviously inspired by other artists and their work,” he added.

“Mark Rothko, Guido Molinari and other modernist artists like Claude Tousignant and Ives Klein.”

The 79-year-old has dabbled with contemporary portraits and fine art photography, but painting has always been a passion of his.

During the last 20 years he only showed photographs at his solo exhibitions, but never showed paintings.

“Up to now, my painting was strictly a private matter. I painted only for my own pleasure and only sold directly to friends and art collectors.”

Exactly a year ago the fine arts photographer approached Fort Gallery, and after receiving a membership rather quickly, it only seemed appropriate to host a solo exhibition.

“Having finished showing [my] photography, I thought it would be the right moment to show my paintings to a wider audience,” he said.

He spends four to five hours with a paintbrush in hand, working on his own signature abstract artistic style. Abstract art is an art form that creates a visual story using shapes, forms, colours, and textures.

Needless to say, he enjoys the challenge that comes along with creating a painting.

“The challenge to stand before a large empty canvas and being able to make it a painting good enough to be exhibited and sold. If you make it into the door of a high- end commercial gallery with a show every year, you must work very hard to come up with something interesting every time,” Klemm noted.

His impassioned abstract paintings go on display Wednesday, for the public eye, at the Fort Gallery (9048 Glover Rd.) in Fort Langley. The show runs until July 22.

“Not many Canadian painters do this kind of abstract work, there is a niche for it,” he told the Langley Advance.

“It’s all about form, space, and colour. To use very little in order to achieve the strongest.”

There are 16 different pieces of artwork that will make up the exhibition, including a series of geometric abstractions and a collection of minimalist paintings.

“When you enter the gallery, to your left you’ll find a few paintings produced in fall and winter 2017…[these] paintings are based on collages made with cuttings from magazines,” he explained.

“On the front and at the right side of the gallery are the new colour field paintings… an avenue for me to explore.”

Additionally, Klemm feels that the real competition is to remain at the gallery for years to come.

“I am born under the sign of Gemini. I am a typical example of these restless souls,” he noted. “When I look to the right, I always think that I miss something on the left [and there’s] no way that’s going to change.”

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