Eric Aho’s Icy Abstractions at the Hood Museum of Art Emphasize Nature’s Innate Contrasts

Article taken from the Hood Museum of Art and Dartmouth College.

The avanto, or the hole cut in the pond ice next to a Finnish sauna, has captivated nationally recognized Vermont artist Eric Aho for the last nine years and inspired the ongoing series of paintings titled Ice Cuts. The Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, is delighted to gather together, for the first time, a large group of these works, along with the artist’s related watercolor studies and monotypes. This exhibition provides the opportunity to share in Aho’s extended meditation upon this austere, simple, yet mesmerizing subject. Eric Aho: Ice Cuts is on view from January 9 through March 13, 2016, and programming highlights include an opening artist talk and reception on Friday, January 8, as well as other talks, tours, workshops and family events, and member exclusives.

“I hope to accomplish something in painting that has the weight of actual human experience,” says Aho of the Ice Cuts series.

Trained initially as a printmaker, Eric Aho started painting when he moved to northern New England to teach that subject at the Putney School in Vermont in 1989. His major interest has been the landscape. His work has evolved toward abstraction in recent decades, as is clear from the Ice Cuts series, which eliminates the horizon line and focuses entirely on the shape of this void in the ice. The vantage point of these pictures is slightly above the hole, in fact, and in the large paintings it feels as though one needs to take just a few steps to immerse oneself in the cold depths.

The ice surface and cutaway edge reveal nuanced color and curious reflections, while the water in the hole is opaque in some canvases and reflective in others. Together, these aspects become rich painterly opportunities for Aho. As the series progresses, for example, Aho transforms the water, occupying the primary shape of the canvas, from a dark chasm into a glowing yellow surface, revealing the light of an imagined Arctic sky. In these luminous and complex works, ice and water, the same substance in different forms, are transubstantiated as paint through color and brushstroke. Seen as a whole, Eric Aho’s Ice Cuts are an intense meditation on winter, and on the art of painting.

This exhibition was organized by the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, and generously supported the Philip Fowler 1927 Memorial Fund and the Ray Winfield Smith 1918 Memorial Fund.

News Release | Contact: Nils Nadeau, Head of Publishing and Communications | (603) 646-2095 |

Media Contacts:

Hood Museum of Art
Nils Nadeau: (603) 646-2095 •

Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs
(603) 646-3661 •