Artist Evan Nesbit creates uniquely textured paintings that electrify your eyes while they tempt you to approach ever closer. His unusual technique reinvents the relationship between paint and “canvas” while playing with the idea what the “front” of an artwork means. Evan Nesbit: Marbled and Bewildered is his third solo exhibition at Van Doren Waxter gallery in New York, on view through February 11th 2023.
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From across the room, each painting resembles thousands of tiny pixels of paint spread across cloud-like auras of color in various sections. Up close (and especially from an angle), paint appears to ooze out between the weave of the fabric.
Nesbit has perfected a technique of pushing paint with a squeegee through dyed burlap from the back. The result combines the blurred pigments within the fabric with the 3-dimensional tufts of paint that emerge. Even in areas where the front and back colors are the same, texture becomes a visual tool all its own. The final works stitch multiple sections together to create a warped, organic composition.
In this newest work, Nesbit introduces recognizable forms within the patchwork. For example, in the yellow work above titled “Blue Electric Guillotine” (the title references a lyric from the American indie rock band Pavement) the two elements can be imagined as the blade and neck-rest of the execution device. In my view, “Heavy Deeds” (below) resembles the handle of a pallet jack carrying a load of boxes that also form the edge of the painting.
These paintings prompt a joyous investigation of image, material, and process from every distance and angle, gradually shifting your attention from physical paint to saturated color to sculptural form to representational “picture,” and back again.
Beyond the pigment and paint, Nesbit plays intelligently with the fabric too. In certain areas, thin strands of colorful thread dangle from the surface – perhaps the start or end of a stitch revealed on the front of the painting rather than hidden on the back.
In works like “Joe’s Load” (below), several of the burlap seams face the viewer, expanding the interplay of front and back.
Nesbit has dropped traditional rules of what should be on the front or back of a painting in service to unique and beautiful objects. It’s just great painting.
Evan Nesbit (b. 1985) lives and works in Nevada City, California. He was educated at Yale University, New Haven, CT (MFA) and The San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, CA (BFA). Marbled and Bewildered is on view at Van Doren Waxter gallery through Februrary 11th.
Installation and artwork images are courtesy of Van Doren Waxter and Evan Nesbit. Detail images photographed by David Behringer.