R.L. Washington will present his new paintings in an exhibit titled “Flashbacks” from April 3 – May 12, 2023, at Moody Jones Gallery, 107b Easton Road, Glenside.
An Artist Reception will be held from 5-8 pm Saturday, April 8 at the gallery.
The years-long pandemic had a profound effect on artist R.L. Washington: It prompted him to spend more time painting and forced him to reflect on his own mortality. Those memories are embodied in the new works that grew out of his time of reflection.
“Having lived more than six decades, I have always considered my paintings to reflect the journey of my life,” says Washington. “Each piece reveals a personal perception of the things, places and people I sometime or another witnessed.”
His paintings are stocked with what one critic described as “humble folk in everyday life”: a woman carrying groceries, a man walking a dog, an older man with a cane crossing the street near a lot littered with old cars, young men playing basketball, a lush community garden, and the night lights and nightlife of a city after dark.
“R.L. Washington’s paintings of Black life ennoble simple truths in a homespun way without patronizing the characters who act them out,” a Philadelphia Inquirer reviewer stated. In another review, the same writer noted that “one perceives his paintings as vignettes of city life that aren’t exclusive to Black people.”
A painter of social realism, Washington works with oil dabbed in bright hues of orange, green, red, yellow and blue. His themes are life, death and spirituality. He paints what he values, he told a reporter once, “the nature of the human condition and the common thread that binds all people.”
Born Ronald Lee Washington in 1957, he was raised and educated in Philadelphia. He attended the fine arts magnet program at Overbrook High School. He entered the Philadelphia College of Art (now the University of the Arts) on a scholarship, majored in illustration and graduated in 1979 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. He also studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
Washington has exhibited often at local galleries, including Moody Jones, Sande Webster and Dizyners. His works have also been shown at the African American Museum in Philadelphia, Hampton University Museum, the Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies, the Free Library of Philadelphia, the African American Museum in Dallas, the National Academy of Design in New York and the Philadelphia Art Alliance. He has won numerous awards, and his paintings are in many local and regional collections. His work was featured in the books “African American Wisdom” in 2003 and “Mothers: A Loving Celebration” in 1997.
“I put myself into each piece,” Washington says. “I put soul into the work.”