Eric Dever

The Rose Chapel

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

—Joe Pintauro, playwright, novelist, poet and photographer

The Gertrude and Frank Kaiser Gallery at Molloy College in Rockville Centre, New York, is rectangular in shape with high ceilings, a panel of overhead windows facing the interior commons area, and one vertical window overlooking the campus which provides direct sunlight. From the window, one can see a statue of the Virgin Mary in the distance, one of many campus remembrances dedicated to the Dominican Sisters who founded the college in 1955.

When presented with the opportunity to exhibit at the college, Christine Berry (Berry Campbell Gallery co-director) suggested that I present “…something you’ve always wanted to try.” The resulting installation Eric Dever: The Rose Chapel, is inspired in part by three historically significant chapels: The Chapelle du Rosaire du Vence—The Matisee Chapel, also built by Dominican sisters in the South of France (1948-51); the Vatican in Rome, and the Rothko Chapel in Houston, Texas.

My intention was to transform the gallery into a chapel, a place for contemplation and meditation within the active center of the college student and performing arts complex. With 3 inches to spare, a suite six 72 x 72 inch paintings, was double stacked on the major wall visible from the gallery entrance. The starting point for this group of paintings, both in its essence and genus, was a rose from my garden which I deconstructed, letting the energetic qualities of color, line, and form emerge. On the opposite wall 3 paintings were installed horizontally, including a variation on the original rose with the additional element of the rose’s stamen, presenting the rose itself as both a microcosm and macrocosm.  

Earlier paintings were presented at either end of the space, reflecting nearly a decade’s work in which I had limited my palette for four years to white alone (Zinc and Titanium white). While examining the material properties of paint and support, I uncovered a white spectrum ranging from opacity to translucency. These compositions were largely geometric, circles graded from dark to light, which included the introduction of black, widening the range and force of the work. In 2010, I began testing prepared red hues and arrived at Napthol Scarlet, a modern replacement for Vermillion, and worked through some of the earlier compositions. The range and quantity of tones were staggering, all from just red, white, and black.

This approach embraced my interest in color’s shifting correspondence with matter (black) to energy (red) to self-realization (white).  Each wall of the Molloy gallery reflects this path whether encompassed in a single painting or reflected by groupings of three or more paintings. The exhibition itself envelops the viewer as a walk through the gallery becomes a spiritual journey, moving from darkness to light, material to spiritual, earthbound to transcendence.

This site and its entire contents are © Eric Dever. Reproduction prohibited except by permission of the artist. Artwork photography by Gary Mamay.