Head On

Gary Evans

May 18 - June 15, 2002


Apparatus , 2001
oil on canvas
60 x 72 inches

Paul Petro Contemporary Art is pleased to present new paintings by Gary Evans. This latest body of work, Head On, explores largely urban settings populated by modernist structures, parking lots and landscaped grounds and interfaced with abstract elements that have become widely known as Evans' signature mark-making.

Evans' work came under close scrutiny in a five-year survey exhibition Seeing Things that toured Canada from November 2000 to April 2002, beginning at the Saidye Bronfman Centre in Montreal and continuing at the Art Gallery of Mississauga, the Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery (Owen Sound), the Kitchener/Waterloo Art Gallery, the Kenderdine Art Gallery in Saskatoon and Saint Mary's University Art Gallery in Halifax. There is a 64-page bilingual full-colour catalogue ($15.00) accompanying this exhibition with an introduction by David Liss, currently curator of the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (Toronto), an essay by Stuart Reid, director/curator of the Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery, a lengthy interview conducted by senior Canadian painter Harold Klunder and edited by Clint Roenisch, former curator of the Kitchener/Waterloo Art Gallery and an additional text by Toronto-based artist Nell Tenhaaf.

Evans was born in Weston-Super-Mare, England and raised in Oakville, Ontario. He graduated from the Ontario College of Art in 1989. He lives and works in Alliston, Ontario. His work can be found in numerous private, public and corporate collections in Canada. Head On is his fifth solo exhibition with Paul Petro Contemporary Art.

"In this last group of paintings I have found that, in the process of completing them, the paintings seem to represent small personal moments of recognition or perhaps self-awareness within a larger familiar context. Having said that, and re-read it, I also realize that the opposite is quite possibly just as true - that these are small moments of disorientation set within a context of unfamiliarity. Unfortunately, all that I can say for sure at this point is that each painting has ended up representing to me a quite specific mood or mental situation.

"I am interested in making a representation of the landscape as if it is mapped over an abstract framework, or is somehow unhinged from it's traditional moorings within the picture plane, and allowed to operate as a series of free compositional elements that may act as both a device for cohesion and dislocation. I do not intend to sound as if I am using a formula to achieve the end result, but I do find that to feel some sense of the work being finished there needs to be a sense of movement both within gravity and free of it as well. The more I paint the more I see how what I physically aim to achieve (in the viewer's response) is really a manifestation of the modern spirit in art.

"When I showed this work to someone in the form of photographs they remarked that it reminded them of an advertisment. This is a sentiment I'd never really considered, but after thinking about it I realized that they could be read as this as they really aim to make something immediate and pleasing out of really very little (although I've invested plenty of time into non-descript office buildings, parking lots and stands of trees and they are a valuable resource for me personally, I think you know what I mean)."

There is an enforced reverie about the constant movement in the compositional elements that reminds me ,when I can step back a little, of a screensaver or the graphic onslaught that accompanies the opening of most T.V. news shows. These additions of bubbles and circles and directional elements are essential to the process of making the picture as are the realistic elements within them. They are what "it" is about because I am currently at a loss to say what purpose these things serve other than being a reflective surface of sorts, that if you give it time to do it's thing it will give you a small visual ride of some kind that may help you reconsider the strange and magical thing that is the process of looking and seeing. The pictures this time around seem to be more local in colour, but I hope that you are able to find something a little cosmic in them."

- Gary Evans,
May 2002