Brooklyn-based artist Evan Paul English uses a small viewfinder to discover compelling compositions within the fabrics he collects and enlarges them to abstract paintings of different scales, working across painting, sculpture, murals, and wallpaper. VIEWFOUND, his current solo exhibition in Brooklyn, features work along these lines and is on view at 324 5th Avenue through December 6th, 2021. Presented by Salt Gallery in collaboration with ChaShama, the show includes eight new works that translate American vintage floral design into paintings, referencing gender, sexuality, and class.
Can you tell me more about the idea behind the body of work in this show and what would you like to share about the process of making it?
My work investigates American domesticity through the collection and reframing of nostalgic artifacts. I have an ongoing collection of vintage floral fabrics which inform my multidisciplinary practice of painting and tattooing. My tattoo work involves replicating fabric designs onto skin, which is a process of looking very closely at these fabrics, intimately recreating their every detail. This extreme proximity to the fabrics originally inspired VIEWFOUND. Using a viewfinder atop the fabrics until a composition presents itself, I photograph and digitally manipulate the images, then translate them into large scale paintings. Like being engulfed by the color field of a Mark Rothko, or a floral painting by Georgia O’Keefe, my paintings describe something familiar, yet ambiguous. This shift in scale, context, and medium creates a new experience with something familiar.
These paintings are a fragment of a bigger picture: concepts such as class, gender, and traditional American ideologies. I’m interested in fabrics specifically for their ephemeral nature and history they innately carry. These paintings are a way of honoring those who created them, wore them, and came into contact with them. By painting them I am giving them a new life, a sort of grandiose permanence, and asking the viewer to appreciate the beauty of everyday life; to consider the impact something so common as a textile might have on our life. How is our own self-perception impacted by the materials and objects that surround us?
Viewfound (Camouflage 4), 2021. Acrylic on canvas. 46 x 58 inches.
All photo courtesy of Noah Fecks
Originally from Boise, Idaho, Evan Paul English is an interdisciplinary artist working and residing in Brooklyn, New York. His work ranges from painting, mixed media sculpture, murals and tattoo art. Using collected artifacts as material to create readymade sculptures and as visual language in his paintings, he explores relationships between gender, class, sexuality and the effect of growing up queer in America. He investigates the ways in which culture shapes our self-understanding through materials and objects, often utilizing decorative motifs to subvert stereotypes and ask deeper questions about our own gender narratives. He co-owns Yarrow Studio, an appointment-only tattoo studio located in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Evan was recently an Artist Fellow at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, participated in the 2020 edition of SPRING/BREAK Art Show, and exhibited work at Fridman Gallery in New York City.
Viewfound: Evan Paul English at Chashama in collaboration with Salt Gallery 324 5th Ave, NY, NY 10001, Oct 29-Dec 6, 2021