Last night John Borden Evans opened at the Christa Faut Gallery. It was great to see his newest work in the company of his many friends and fans here in the area. His work always has a strong resonance for me, because we have both chosen rural lifestyles and our environments have much in common.
John often creates diptychs. I recall one from a show several years ago that was immense, and divided in two parts so it could be transported. In this exhibition he had one diptych that was a small work on paper, and another that was midsized. It amused me that it hung next to a painting that was on a single canvas, but split in half by the black line of a tree trunk, so it read like a diptych as well.
This work had John’s usual wonderful quirkiness and intense sense of texture. There were paintings with his own iconography I’ve come to expect– the stars and their auras, abstracted in this show to look like jewels. There were animals arranged in pastures. But there was also a new thing going on– a quieter, more serene and restrained approach to the land in several of the paintings. They were empty of animal life, and focused on balance: of verticals and horizontals, of smooth with rough, of darkness and light. A favorite was a snow day painting, as usual, abstracted with abandon, but all the same, reading with the truth I recognize as a student of the landscape. It conveyed the way the snow peaks out and exposes the contours of the forest floor normally hidden in the grayness of a thousand bare tree limbs. The texture he created to describe the trees in the foreground was perversely horizontal, when the obvious direction for them to have been painted would be vertical or diagonal. It married serenity and intensity, smooth and rough, white snow sky and darkened forest,truth and the myth. All were suspended in quiet equilibrium.