by: Andy Brumer
by: Peter Frank
by: Roberta Smith
by: Leah Ollman
By Steve Olson
By: Tibby Rothman
“Influenced by the same California light and landscape made famous by hordes of Los Angeles artists, and living just blocks away from the beach at Venice that has spawned more than its fair share of artwork, one finds the works of Ned Evans are rich with the sense of depth and atmosphere that the oceanfront geography evokes. The dichotomous relationship between the natural and man made is omnipresent in Evans' work. On a regular basis, Evans continues to employ geometry in his compositions alluding to the intersection unique to the California coast where dense urban topography meets the expansiveness of the Pacific.”
- Robert Brander, 2005
Ned Evans was born in 1950. This means that he learned to read using a very particular first book. Dick and Jane was the chosen reading primer of the public school system at that time. The main activities of Dick and Jane were “looking” and “seeing”. How did it happen that the book chosen to teach reading to American children of the Fifties was coincidentally the perfect picture book for the development of optical perception? Perhaps it was no coincidence. After all, western visual tradition since the Renaissance has been concerned with using the eyes to grab and apprehend the world. America of the Fifties shared a similar ambition. It was poised to grab the international political and cultural spotlight from Europe.
See - to perceive something with the eyes. Look - to use the eyes to examine, watch, or find. Ned Evans has spent the last 40 years developing his paintings with a self-reflexive emphasis on the visual faculties most revered by Dick and Jane. He pursues meaning through opticality. A lifetime spent watching the water, skies and mountains of California has built an acute optical sensibility. He “looks” at the glazes of atmosphere that cause the shimmering of west coast light. He “looks” at the way water ripples over and distorts the vision of his surfboard as it moves through the waves. He “looks” into waves to read their design and intent.
He continues this examination in his studio as he mixes skeins of color heavily weighted with water. He works over and over the skeins in thin watery glazes until he finds the moment of theatricality that is possible, some would even say inherent, in abstract painting. He works to find an ephemeral game plan of rich, undulating color and light. His artistic fathers are the fathers of abstraction. But his mothers are the air, land and waters of his home.
- Jill Giegerich, Professor
University of California, Riverside, CA
As From the Desert to the Sea reveals, Evan’s artwork is infused with the light, space and rhythms of southern California. This unique topography of sand, sea and sun-drenched color provides the structural soul of the works in the exhibition.
The seeds of origin for much of the current work can be traced to Evans’ love of the outdoors and a desire to transmute the physicality of experience to the work of art. The paintings retain a strong sense of the hand of the artist. They are as much lovingly crafted sculptural objects as they are works engaging in the abstract language of painting.
In the most recent paintings, color is applied in broad strokes, often painted wet on wet, to form loose, rhythmic patterns. Some of the panels are dense and opaque concentrations of a single color. Other panels are translucent washes, acting almost as windows through the work. Underlying all is a sense of energy, an exuberant impatience eager to break free of the order imposed.
The origins of pattern and color, so prevalent in the later paintings, began in the sculptural assemblages, and highly textured surfaces of the earlier paintings. In many of the current works, echoes of this dimensional lineage remain, providing structural counterweight to color. Object and paint harmonize in a fusion of form and color – and sing the eloquent song of the artist’s journey - from the desert to the sea.
- William Turner, owner
William Turner Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
Emotive rather than purely visual, the surf-inspired paintings of Venice, California's Ned Evans are obviously evocative of the ocean's sway, but are not depictions so much as a collective of physical and sensory reinterpretations of the surf. After nearly five decades of surfing and painting, a symbiosis occurs between the two, a deeply interwoven relationship feeds both passions. Evans has compiled a wellspring of experiences of and from the ocean and its countless perspectives - from the beach’s sand to aerial overviews, from absolute immersion to riding the wave and sitting on a board looking back to the land's horizon. Derived from dream, from memory, from the ephemeral experience the ocean can give to those who love it, Evans's paintings have been exhibited throughout the U.S. and Europe. "Picasso said, 'Painting isn't an aesthetic operation; it's a form of magic designed as a mediator between this strange, hostile world and us, a way of seizing the power by giving form to our terrors as well as our desires.'" says Evans. "And I wonder, could he have been talking about surfing, too?”
- Rebecca Cox, Fresh Paint Art
Culver City, CA