Albert Alcalay’s art celebrates the Vineyard

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"After the Storm" —Albert Alcalay

The work of renowned abstract expressionist artist, the late Albert Alcalay, is on display at the West Tisbury Library until August 31. Leor Alcalay has chosen a group of his father’s abstract paintings inspired by summers on the Island.

After incarceration in Italian concentration camps during World War II, which Alcalay wrote about in his memoir “The Persistence of Hope,” Alcalay depicted the camps and the Italian landscape. Self-portraits provided another subject for this stylistically prolific artist, as well as urban environments.

“When he came to the Vineyard, he changed his style so that it was reflective of his experience here,” Leor said. His father’s brightly colored abstract renderings of Island landscapes incorporate geometric forms in the work on display. After he became legally blind, Alcalay continued to paint, calling this work his “post macular” phase.

In “After the Storm,” a vibrant palette of mostly primary colors explodes onto the canvas below a field of blue, suggestive of sky. Circles, lines, and random shapes combine in an eloquently complex composition. In another work, the artist has arranged a tower of small squares that march to the top of the painting in front of a lush, dark green field. Red forms repeat throughout most of the paintings, expressive of the artist’s indomitable spirit. He never wanders entirely away from allusions to the figurative, giving the viewer opportunities to connect his vision to the real world.