October 14, 2011 § Leave a comment
Writing about the paintings of Jan van Eyck, art historian Erwin Panofsky said: “Jan van Eyck’s eye operates as a microscope and as a telescope at the same time…compelling the beholder to oscillate between positions very far from the picture and many positions close to it.” The quote could also describe the paintings of Gary Evans — but with the important distinction that, in Evans’ work, the oscillations are inscribed onto the canvas. Rendering dimension in a picture as shifting planes of paint has always been a predominant feature of Evans’ art. It’s a technique that creates oscillations, or suggested shifts in position for the viewer that, in their way, are just as characteristic of the world the artist inhabits as van Eyck’s more detailed figurative paintings were of his.
Panofsky’s quote points to the broad context Evan’s paintings have always had as their first point of reference: the tradition of landscape painting. For Evans, the Dutch painters of the 17th century have particular significance. Van Eyck provides a reference point as a Nordic master who worked in what is considered to be a naturalistic style – which is to say a style unencumbered by the idealizations of Italian Renaissance Humanism. Of greater relevance is Jacob van Ruisdael, whom Evans cites as an influence. Indeed when looking closely at the artist’s paintings, viewers can often glimpse segments of landscape peaking through, styled in a descriptive mode that is distinctively Flemish.
This text was originally written to accompany Gary Evan’s show ‘spce invdrs’ at Paul Petro Contemporary Art. More info here.