Guest contributor Jonathan Stevenson / Liam Everett’s large paintings – on display in his show “Montolieu” at On Stellar Rays – are insidiously provocative. At first glance they just look unevenly worn and washed-out, perhaps casualist or aimed to simulate relics that might be found on the walls of an abandoned cathedral or museum. Then it becomes clear that Everett is after neither the agitation of the provisional nor the security of any clear historical referent.
[Image at top: Liam Everett, Untitled (Larrun), 2013, acrylic, oil, salt and alcohol on primed linen
77 x 54-1/4 inches.]
Everett’s method hints at his intent. On unstretched linen, he layers oil and acrylic paint in thick and uniform quantity, but then strips and sands the surface of the painting to lay bare, in erratic patches, the linen’s surface and fibers. When a kind of detachment or foreignness is achieved, and any hint of intentional marks is adequately obscured, he considers the painting to be done and ready to stretch. Extremely physical yet mimicking the passive effects of aging, the process yields an undulating effect that is eerie and inscrutable but comfortably short of forbidding.
The more exposed portions of the linen invite the viewer to look into (and beyond) the painting as the extant color cues the apprehension of its content. The level of visual abstraction and deliberate obscurantism generate uncertainty about just what is on view, while providing sufficient information to insist on speculation. Everett seems to be angling for a sense of transience coupled with existential anxiety and perhaps the gnawing of self-doubt. Paradoxically, the paintings seem exultant in their humility.
“Liam Everett: Montolieu,” On Stellar Rays, Lower East Side, New York, NY. Through April 6, 2014.
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Tags: Jonathan Stevenson