Ian Everard, Inside the Artist’s Studio

Anthony Ryan

       Ian Everard, according to his artist’s statement, is a painter of objects. The objects in hiscase are usually photographs but can include pulp novels, the daily paper, junk mail circulars, and indeed any printed ephemera that fall under his voracious gaze. The paintings themselves employ a methodical watercolor technique Everard describes as a “slow scan”. Constantly shifting from object to painting usually with the aid of a magnifying glass and working outwardly in small circular arcs, he constantly tests the limits of his ability to accurately record the details of his subject. The result is a “reproduction”, a scaled representation of the original, usually shown with the original in a shadow box type arrangement. While in many respects a purely mechanical process, this approach also constitutes a meditation on history and current events, the ever-shifting dialog between the past and the present and one’s personal link to cultural phenomenon.

While Everard is currently in transitional phase in terms of media and presentation, this painting practice and its heretofore-ancillary activities, (collecting, selecting) remain the focus. Everard’s traditional yet highly theoretically based practice is in a way a hybrid of his early training in a refined watercolor technique, and later experience at The Stourbridge School of Art during the period of the Art and Language Group. This engagement with a conceptual, politically engaged art led to an early career as an itinerate performance artist which yielded to his current practice of painting in a fascinating way. A critical moment came when he found himself in Paris on holiday viewing the Impressionist collection, which currently resides at the Musee D’Orsay. Everard was blindsided by the richness of the paintings, an art form he had all but dismissed as irrelevant. Suddenly seized by a desire to paint, Everard purchased a set of watercolors from the only store he could find open, ironically a Chinese Communist bookstore, and set out for the south of France to paint from the landscape. A second seminal experience occurred on this trip when, painting a hedgerow, he set down his painting against the subject, and stepping back experienced the disappearance of the painting into the background. A self-professed lover Fact and Fiction Volume VI, 1987 watercolor on paper, book, frame 8 ! X 11 inches of doppelgangers and duplicates, this uncanny confusion between the painting and subject has preoccupied Everard ever since. Gerhard Richter (disingenuously in Everard’s opinion) describes the act of painting from the photograph as liberation from style, color, composition and subject, all the factors that bedevil painters. While Richter’s, “The Daily Practice of Painting” is a fixture in Everard’s studio this somewhat blithe attitude is absent in Everard’s work. For one, the selection of subject with a sufficient combination of personal and cultural resonance (the punctum and studium respectfully) is to Everard a “medium” in and of itself. Furthermore, he describes this act of painting from the photograph as a “revealing process”, the act of reproducing the photograph akin to a prolonged, intensive viewing of the picture that entails an intimate connection to history. In the process of painting press photos from the 1940s and 50s for instance, Everard professes sympathy even tenderness for anonymous faces as he painstakingly renders their likeness. As a MFA Student in New Genres at SFSU, Everard is currently in a state of flux with regard to the presentation of his work. In the meantime his painting process remains a constant, and more than that, the process itself has become focus of this new direction. In a way it is an effort to cast off problematic aspects of exhibiting the painted subject next to the “real thing”, a practice that according to Everard has tended to privilege the painting over the object, indeed the painting process over the ideas that underpin them. To put it more bluntly, Everard hopes to provoke questions other than, “What size brush do you use?” Frontline, 1998 watercolor on paper, photograph, frame 20” X 22” In two recent installations, Ian has attempted to shift the viewers experience from the products of his studio practice to the many facets or totality of that practice. These facets include the selection of subject, references to influential artists and writing, the process of painting and the studio itself, a space Everard describes as “ a place of ideas and possibility, of flux and flow, and most of all work.”

In Camera Lucida/ Work in Progress, Cabrillo College

   In this piece, an installation at Cabrillo College, Cabrillo California, 2006, the title alludes to both the archaic artist’s drawing tool and Roland Barthes’ seminal writing on photographic theory. It consists of a recreation of the artist’s studio in the gallery, including real items from his actual studio, paintings in progress, a video projection of a wall in his home studio with a looped image of the artist himself peering in on one of the room’s three muslin walls, and a performative aspect, the occasional presence of the artist at work. This recreation of Everard’s home studio, down to marking the layout of walls and furniture in adjoining rooms and scribing hardwood boards on the concrete floor of the gallery, is as methodical in its way as the paintings he creates. This environment also suggests the depth of Everard’s engagement with current events, history and theory, filled as it is with his studio reading, the daily paper as well as ephemera; junk mail and his daily (empty) cup of coffee. It is an extension of Ian’s previous practice of showing object with painting but perhaps also its logical conclusion in the quest to de-privlidge the art object.

    An ancillary to the In Camera Lucida project, Locus in Focus concentrates directly upon Everard’s work surface. A video projection is employed again this time, cast onto the artist’s satellite studio desk at San Francisco State University. The image this simulates is the work surface with the artist at work using footage shot from above. As in the In Camera Lucida project, the table is covered (although this time via projection as well as with actual objects) with a field of subjects and works in progress. This time the workspace component from In Camera Lucida is back, front and center, actual objects are placed where they occur on the projected work surface, “registered” in place, rendering the duplication Everard is so fond of along with a strange dislocation between the physical and projected reality. For the viewer, Locus in Focus is in a sense a more intimate interaction with the artist; one has the unsettling feeling of peering over his shoulder. In a way these projects insert what has been left out of Ian’s paintings as they seek to relay the factual details of the objects in question, omitting external or extraneous detail.

The shift to installation and video provide an avenue through which these invisible aspects are supplied to the viewer, proving them with perhaps aricher tableau, that of theartist’s life.

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Everard: Extricating Memory

July 5 through October 5, 2003

 

Artist Ian Everard recreates the past. Using watercolors, Everard painstakingly reproduces old photographs and objects, usually unearthed from antique shops. Everard searches for images or objects that strike him, taking note of the smallest details-a pose, a facial expression, or a mistake in the manufacturing. As Everard explains “The medium I use is watercolor, though I am tempted to describe the very act of searching for material as a medium in itself. I say this because I have come to see the use of found objects as a form of language, almost as if it has its own vocabulary”

The focus of Everard’s work has changed corresponding to phases in his life. His initial work focused on plant and animal life, and continued on to toys and discarded pocket books, such as pulp romance novels. During the mid nineties, Everard shifted his focus to media photographs, particularly from the World War II era. Everard reflects on the timelessness of the photographs and describes how “The horizontal line pattern which results from the telegraphic process used to send information to the press agency, bears a striking resemblance to the texture of video tape footage seen on television news today.”

During the recreation process, Everard becomes aware of the many mistakes apparent in his found objects, and sees his paintings as an inventory of errors. “It seems to go without saying that no image can be taken at face value, but the process of meticulous copying reveals many layers of unforeseen meaning.”

Everard was born in Cornwall, Great Britain, and studied at the Stourbridge College in England, and University of California, Santa Cruz. His work has been displayed most recently at the Institute of Contemporary Art in San Jose, the Couturier Gallery in Los Angeles, and the Mirage Gallery in Tokyo, Japan.

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