Elusive Nature (Naturaleza Esquiva)
United States Information Service, Quito, Ecuador
and the Phoenix Art Museum 1996
David S. Rubin
Elusive Nature (excerpt)
Nature, a traditional subject for painting, has reemerged as a source of inspiration for the works of many of today’s most accomplished American painters. Using a variety of mediums and stylistic formats for abstracting nature in varying degrees, the artists in this exhibition portray nature as more precious, vulnerable, and elusive than in traditional representations. In their preference for a seductive and beautiful aesthetic, these painters reveal a common yearning for a pure world untarnished by present-day environmental problems….
Andrew Young, like the other artists in this exhibition, shows reverence for nature’s grand past. Young’s paintings, executed in the traditional medium of egg tempera, are poetically nostalgic of earlier centuries when nature, in the form of architectural ornament dominated by floral motifs, was an integral component of indoor environments. The artist discovered the egg tempera medium while on a scholarship in Italy in 1983 and has employed it ever since. A time-consuming process of layering and glazing using powder pigments mixed with egg yolk, painting in egg tempera results inprecious, glossy surfaces that, when allowed to peel or crack, resemble aged walls, relics from another era. Young restricts his imagery to architectural frameworks coupled with floral and decorative patterning and his paletteto golden earth tones
or soft blues suggestive of water or sky. Assisted by evocative metaphors, his paintings pay tribute to nature’s persistence equated with the galaxies in Astronomy (Familiar Seas and Nights), nature is viewed as timeless and universal, and in A Lighter Vessel is the inspiration for magical transport. In Two Lights Placed There, nature is the divine illumination of hope, a source of light that embraces the past while eying the future.
Indeed, at a time when computer technology is rapidly leading us into virtual worlds and fabricated realities, the artists presented in Elusive Nature provide serious, and perhaps necessary, grounding. Using their remarkable gifts as painters, poets, and visionaries, they employ beauty and substance as cautionary devices, urging that we not lose sight of our connectedness to the earth.
David S. Rubin
Curator of 20th Century Art
Phoenix Art Museum