Eric Dever



Eric Dever: Painting in a House Made of Air



Berry Campbell Gallery, New York

January 10th - February 9th, 2019




artist statement



For more than a decade, I worked with a square canvas and limited palette, white for four years, then white and black for two years, followed by white, black, and red. I uncovered a remarkable variety, both in hue and composition, most notable when the work was installed together, each painting held its own.


The shift began when I let go of the square and moved to a rectangular format, there was no longer a central area of interest, but multiple areas of concentration. More strikingly, I rediscovered color—not just one at a time, but the entire spectrum, color as a painting program, the color spectrum as abstraction, the universe reflected in nature. 


Nature is the beauty of Brahman.1 —Sri Swami Tapovan Maharai Chimmaya

 

This new palette began 2 years ago while I was planting a garden, coupled with an awareness of the Indian and yogic notion of the chakras, 7 energetic centers in the human body where matter and consciousness meet, which also parallel the visible spectrum. I found myself taking cues from flowers as they blossomed, their color entered my paintings. At the height of the summer I had used all of it, mostly mixing tints, Titanium White with Napthol Scarlet, Quinacridone Red, Cadmium Orange, Hansa Yellow, Phthalo Green, Phthalo Blue and Dioxaine Purple. The apprehension of color stuck with me, and by the following summer I began mixing new hues.


Painting for me, when it really ‘happens,’ is as miraculous as any natural phenomenon.2 —Lee Krasner


My painting approach also involves exchanging shapes between canvases, often through a mono print process of painting onto a surface and transferring it to canvas, techniques to intricacy which recall the invention of Jean Dubuffet and decalcomania of Max Ernst. The painting January 13th-The Women’s March, includes a second canvas which echoes the composition of half the original, the sum implying a triptych, though actually a diptych of unequal proportions. Others include forms mirrored top to bottom within a single painting, August 5th-North Fork; or between similarly dimensioned supports, July 17th, February 15th, March 1st; and the Prickly Pear Cactus Suite: September 4th, October 3rd, October 9th, and December 14th-Green Joy.


These (Dever’s) repetitions of forms and other planned elements, together with the more gestural painting of the rest of the canvas, creates a charged tension between spontaneity and organization, one of the ways de Kooning 

worked.3 —Jennifer Landes


Unpainted canvas, or ground as shape, contribute to an atmospheric openness in the paintings, spreading and breathing. Some sections or shapes of unpainted canvas are formally revealed as negative space, and more personally, a portal or meditation on absence, as in March 16th-Cala Lily, May 25th-The Jade Buddha, June 21st-The Venetian Lemon, Villa Francesco, July 16th-Narrow River and July 16th-Lavender Pilgrimage.


Automatism, methods of mining the unconscious popularized by the Surrealists, breathes life into the work, reflecting catastrophes including November 9th, or alternately “…an obstinate dedication to fight everything repressive in the conventional wisdom,4 evidenced in January 13th-The Women’s March.


The use of dates as titles includes a progression from the solar calendar to events, reminiscence and homage, journal like entries associated with memory and location, including Hindu festivals, September 13th--Ganesh Chaturthi and February 13th-Maha Shivratri. July 31st-Franklin Avenue, is an homage to artist and teacher Corita Kent. In July 14th-Sherbourne Drive and August 26th-Glenbarr Avenue, angst of the past lifts as I reclaim happier moments. 


The joyful shock of walking into Berry Campbell’s Chelsea art gallery was to see an exhibition saturated with color....“This change must have come from here,” touching his chest. “Is this about Joe?” His expression shifted from the commercial smile of a solitary artist forced to entertain his followers, to one of man grieving a dear friend. He nodded. Eric worked intimately with the brilliant playwright Joe Pintauro. The two shared a love of the painterly and writerly disciplines. After valiantly fighting cancer, Pintauro died last May in Eastern Long Island, where both men had studios. Eric told me that Pintauro had written a play (“A House Made of Air”) from which Eric took the name of his exhibition, “Painting in a House Made of Air.” The play was inspired by a memoir of grief that spoke to Pintauro (Pablo Neruda, Sonnet XCIV)...5—Gail Sheehy


“Art is healing, condensed information.”6



Eric Dever (born, Los Angeles, 1962) moved to New York in 1986 to study painting and critical theory at NYU/Steinhardt (MA’88-studio art). His work since the early 1990’s has been exhibited throughout the United States and internationally. Dever is represented by Berry Campbell Gallery, New York.


Dever’s paintings are currently on view in the U.S. Consulate General Hong Kong and Macau, Art in Embassies, Department of State exhibition (2016-19), and were featured in a lecture by Gail Levin, Distinguished Professor of Art History, Baruch College and the CUNY Graduate Center, American Art and India: Cultural Exchange Among Artists of India and the United States, at the Pollock Krasner House and Study Center, East Hampton, New York (2016). His  work was included in the permanent collection exhibition, Parrish Perspectives: Art in Context, curated by Alicia G. Longwell at the Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, New York (2017); recent one-artist exhibitions include Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, California (2017); New York University, Kimmel Galleries, New York (2015-16); Molloy College, Rockville Centre, New York and Berry Campbell Gallery, New York (2014).


Dever’s paintings have been shown in solo and group exhibitions in many venues, including 80 Washington Square East Galleries, New York University, New York; ARCO Plaza, Los Angeles, California; Arizona State University, Phoenix;  Arkansas Art Center, Little Rock; Art in General, New York; Elaine Benson Gallery, Bridgehampton, New York; The Buddy Holly Center, Lubbock, Texas; Centre d’Art et Rencontres, Saint Just en Bellengard, France; Eastern New Mexico University, Portales; Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids, Michigan; Guild Hall Museum, East Hampton, New York; Heckscher Museum of Art, New York; Hudson River Museum, Hastings on the Hudson, New York; Islip Art Museum, New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Marymount University, San Pedro, California; Ohio State University, Marion; The Painting Center, New York; Paris CONCRET, France; Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, New York; Sag Harbor Whaling and Historical Museum, Sag Harbor, New York; Spaces, Cleveland, Ohio; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.


His work is part of notable public collections including Centre d'Art et de Culture, Château d’Escueillens, Saint Just en Bellengard, France; Division Street Editions and the Reutershan Educational Trust, Sag Harbor, Nee York; The Francis J. Greenburger Collection, New York; Grey Art Gallery, New York University Art Collection; Guild Hall Musuem, East Hampton, New York; New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, FishBridge Park; Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, New York; and numerous corporate and private collections including the Coca Cola Company, Atlanta, Georgia; Mark Hampton; Sub Zero Freezer Company, Madison, Wisconsin; and Lady Juliet and Somerset de Chair.


Dever’s paintings have have been published and addressed in Architectural Digest, Blink, The East Hampton Star, 

Harvard Business Review, Long Island Pulse, The New Yorker, New York Magazine, St. Martins’s Press, Surface Magazine, and The World of Interiors.

_____________________________________________

1 ”NATURE (Prakriti) is nothing but Brahman. Nature is not an entity separate from Brahman. The beauty of Nature is the beauty of Brahman. However, the glory of Brahman is reflected far more brilliantly in the uncontaminated un-artificial state of Nature. Whether in contaminated of in uncontaminated condition, he who can perceive the whole of Nature as the very form of Brahman, and the play of Nature as the play of Brahman, is the best amongst the knowers of Truth. He perceives Brahman at all times, everywhere. He enjoys spritual bliss at all times. Even the highest unconditioned state of Samadhi attained by the Yogis is of no use for him, he has already got himself established in the state of Samadhi. He, and all his actions are of the form of Samadhi only.” 

In Hinduism, Brahman represents the ultimate reality underlying all phenomena. 

Sri Swami Tapovan Maharai Chimmaya, ‘Wanderings in the Himalaya’s,’ Glory of the Mother. National Chinmaya Mission Trust, Bombay, 1991, pxii


2Gail Levin. Lee Krasner: A Biography. Harper Collins, New York, 2011, p28


3Jennifer Landes. (2017, April 6). “Eric Dever: A Year of Discovery,” The East Hampton Star.

Retrieved from http://www.mobileeasthamptonstar.com


4“ The real purpose of Surrealism was not to create a new literary, artistic, or even a philosophical movement, but to explore the social order, to transform life itself…and an obstinate dedication to fight everything repressive in the conventional wisdom.” 

Luis Bunuel, My Last Sigh: The Autobiography of Luis Bunuel. Random House Inc., New York, 2013, p10


5 The joyful shock of walking into Berry Campbell’s Chelsea art gallery was to see an exhibition saturated with color. I made a beeline to the artist, my dear friend Eric Dever, to find out what had possessed him to explode his palette. Starting a decade ago, he restricted his palette to white and black, venturing only as far as the addition of red. I leaned in to the artist’s ear and whispered, “This change must have come from here,” touching his chest. “Is this about Joe?” His expression shifted from the commercial smile of a solitary artist forced to entertain his followers, to one of man grieving a dear friend. He nodded.

Eric worked intimately with the brilliant playwright Joe Pintauro. The two shared a love of the painterly and writerly disciplines. After valiantly fighting cancer, Pintauro died last May in Eastern Long Island, where both men had studios. Eric told me that Pintauro had written a play from which Eric took the name of his exhibition, “Painting in a House Made of Air.” The play was inspired by a memoir of grief that spoke to Pintauro. 

As Eric guided me around his large oil paintings, he told me how he had been consoled in own grief by the splurge of color among the flowers that blossomed in his garden. The entire color spectrum opened up to him. He told me he has used only a six-color palette in these extraordinary paintings, but their richness comes from his mixing of oils to create vibrant new colors and the tension between spontaneity and organization of forms.

The gallery owner, Berry Campbell, laughed when I mentioned this extraordinary shift of subject. “I took on Eric five years ago to represent a minimalist,” she said. “Little did I know he would evolve into…” her head swiveled with a broad smile of pleasure, “THIS!” The exhibit runs until February 9 at 530 W. 24th St. Hope you enjoy this slideshow of paintings.

Gail Sheehy. Facebook, Instagram, New York, January 2019


6“An Evening with Holland Cotter and Lynn Neary,” Fordham Center on Religion and Culture, Fordham University, New York, March 9, 2017.


Notes:


“Dever’s work is original, high pitched and powerful.”

—Joe Pintauro, playwright, novelist, poet and photographer


Eric Dever’s meticulous abstract paintings are deeply informed by a discursive range of disciplines, including art history, philosophy, psychology, and spirituality. He deftly combines an orderly commitment to the ineffable materiality of paint with an expansive and sincere curiosity for the manifold dimensions of our gracefully complex existence. These two creative and intellectual imperatives work in productive concert with one another on his captivating canvases.

—Cynthia Hooper, Artist and Professor of Art at College of the Redwoods


Works by Eric Dever ask the viewer to ponder the phenomenon of change, an observation on the impermanence and mutability of life…Dever skillfully manipulates the processes of repetition and cropping to enforce this notion of the transitory as do his reworked surfaces. 

—Philip Verre, Director, Hudson River Museum of Art


Elemental and exacting, Dever’s paintings make you feel like he invented color.

—Janet Goleas, Blinnk, East Hampton, New York


Dever is a must-see…His rose breaking thru metallic black fills you with energy.

—Gail Sheehy, author, journalist and lecturer (Twitter)