INTRODUCTION - The son of a Russian born artist, Hugh Mesibov showed artistic precocity at an early age. Hugh, who was born on the 29th of December, 1916, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, viewed his fathers fine draftsmanship with awe. By adolescence, the rebellious youngster saw only the realism in Philip Mesibov's work and rejected it. The father had little influence on his son's work. Except for a few prudish comments on Hugh's paintings of nudes, the older artist seemed to be disinterested in teaching or guiding his son in art. Fortunately Hugh had first rate professional artists as teachers in high school and at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, where he won a scholarship. The Depression of the 1930's was hard for the country and for the Mesibov family. When, in 1936, Philip died, Hugh was forced to quit the Academy. However, he continued his studies at the Barnes Foundation . Here, in this great collection , he studied the history and traditions of painting. His mother was a semi- invalid and Hugh, the oldest of her three sons, was accepted for the WPA (Works Progress Administration), in the Federal Arts Project. The WPA created various jobs for the unemployed, with the federal government as employer. The government initiated a series of art projects to provide work for artists and to bring art to all the people. Although this did not bring the Depression to an end, the arts project did establish the American art form which would bring the American artist, in all the arts, to the international fame we enjoy today.

1930's - Mesibov was an active member of the WPA from 1937-1940. Mesibov's experimental work in printmaking led to the co-invention of the Carborundum Print process. Mesibov made the first prototype called "Mystic". His invention of the Color Carborundum Print brought the young artist national recognition. In his late teens and early twenties, the artist 's influences were of African sculpture and cubism, but realistic, humanistic and expressionistic. Mesibov observed in the streets, homes and public places of Philadelphia, a quietude of acceptance and also a struggle for survival. Mesibov's work from the grim years of the Depression are not sad- they are, rather, a commentary on that society. This is apparent in the water colors done on the project. These works depict blue collar towns, subway riders, barges on the Delaware River and industrial sites; all seemingly lonely, and yet with a glimmer of hope.

1940's - It is in the horrors of World War II that Hugh's work changed from social commentary to the biting images of surrealism. Mesibov worked in a shipyard at that time. Surrounded by a metal world, sadistic co-workers and the radio and newspaper accounts of the war, his iconography depicts the inhuman, the impersonal- the nightmare of the war. He recalls reading of the siege of Stalingrad by the Third Reich. He says "I found myself in an alien world, disembodied from my naked sensitivity and I built crustaceous defenses that show in my work. I did a painting called 'The Siege'. It's very tortured and anguished and that's the way I was."

NEW YORK - After the war, many artists saw New York city as the international Mecca for the arts ... Mesibov did also. He moved to Manhattan in 1945. In 1947 he had his first New York one-man show at the Chinese Gallery on 57th Street. From this exhibit Dr. Albert Barnes purchased a work for his collection, where it is still hanging. Hugh's work at this time was I still influenced by cubism, African sculpture and also archaic forms. By the late 40's a geometric abstract form started to emerge.

1950's - In the 1950's, Mesibov exhibited extensively in major museums throughout the United States under the auspices of both the American Federation of Arts and the Hallmark Award. He also had one man shows in New York, Chicago and Aspen. During the advent of the New York school of abstract expressionism, the artist's work changed from geometrical abstraction to expressionistic abstraction. In some instances, as for example, in the charming innocent beauty of Aspen of the 1950's, Mesibov turned to an abstracted representational form and with a dash of humor. The stimulating paintings of Monhegan Island are of abstract expressionist style but tinged by the drama of the oceans power. The prints also reflect the abstracted landscapes and figures of the artists world.

1960's - By the late 50's, Mesibov was working upstate, as an art therapist, at the Wiltwyck school. The countryside was beautiful and inspiring- the city seemed a grim place. Hugh and his family moved to Rockland county in December, 1959. In 1963 Mesibov began teaching at Rockland Community College and became a full professor. The move to what was then the country, presented Mesibov with a world filled with the serenity of nature and joy for all life forms. Coupled with this spiritual awakening was the technical advances in paint medium. Acrylic paint was on the market. This wonderful medium provides the artist with the spontaneity of water color and the permanence of oil paint. Mesibov's forte was in his spontaneity and in his jewel-like colors. This quick drying medium enabled him to superimpose his forceful linear forms on the underlying colors. The woodlands and foothills, even the backyard, held inspiration. In addition, Mesibov started to use literature as thematic material. This decade had a diverse body of works that moved from paintings and collages of nature to the drama of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Don Quichote and the preliminary work on the Job mural.

1970's - This was a period of experimental work. Perhaps this was due to the figurative realistic form of the Job Mural. Mesibov felt restricted in using realism, yet he did not feel that the subject matter should be treated in another way. Upon completion of the mural, the artist went to abstract work with a frenzy. The discipline involved in the mural with the organization of composition, color and emotional content is paramount in the expressionist abstract landscapes of this time and can be seen in the paintings done in Maine and on Monhegan Island.

1980's - Technical advances in a color saturation paint gave Mesibov a way to give vent to his profound color genius. He delighted in a celebration of life with vibrant colors and a renewed linear energy. This is evident in the Pond series and the Sun Room series. In the Hudson Valley landscapes the use of pastels with water color. and strong calligraphic strokes were incorporated to intensify the energy he felt. Mesibov retired from Rockland Community College in the late 80's.

1990's - Mesibov's early love for printmaking returned with vigor by his experiments in monotype. The artist uses an interweaving of the spatial elements with high color and intense line. He received a grant from the New York State Council of the Arts for works on paper, focusing on monotype. Landscapes still dominate but the figure is also seen with brilliant colors and dramatic configurations. The use of interweaving space is ongoing. Mesibov sees this as a new leap into the future.