In her sixth solo exhibition at First Street Gallery, Suzi Evalenko presents a whimsical world of still life paintings whose 'personal' character – and vitality – challenge the notion of stillness. All but two of the works are devoid of people. Nonetheless, individual human actors are clearly present just beyond the picture plane.
The oil and mixed media paintings in this show mark a sharp departure from the subject matter – portraiture - that viewers have come to know in Evalenko's past exhibitions. That said, these works share a point of view and quest that are at the heart of every painting this artist makes: a search for the temperament that makes the subject unique and at the same time emblematic. And, like her portraits, the works in this exhibition are about a great deal more than the specific subject. Blue gloves – an iconic image in every work and a source of inspiration for this show – stand in for a gardener, flower arranger, dishwasher, etc. and, universally, for the painter. Beyond the narrative of each painting, the works in this exhibition explore and revel in the very act of making art.
There is close observation and emotional engagement with her subject, certainly, and the rich color and sensitive line that are the hallmarks of Evalenko's works. But, there is also humor and the unexpected (paintings within paintings, a sudden landscape, a model who paints the still life around her), and a frank disregard for the limitations of two-dimensional space.