Fri, May 13|
Charlotte Jackson Fine Art
CLARK WALDING: Evanescence To Open At Charlotte Jackson Fine Art
Clark Walding’s paintings glow. The aching, haunting, mystic blues that he achieves seem to pierce a clean path through the retinal nerve. Image: Clark Walding • breakaway, 2021 • oil, alkyd, and wax on canvas • 35.5 x 33.5 in.
Time & Location
May 13, 2022, 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM MDT
Charlotte Jackson Fine Art, 554 S Guadalupe St, Santa Fe, NM 87501, USA
About the Event
Charlotte Jackson Fine Art is proud to present an exhibition of new works, Evanescence, by Clark Walding, running from May 13 through June 13, 2022. Opening Reception with the artist will be held on Friday, May 13 from 5-7 p.m.
Clark Walding’s paintings glow. The aching, haunting, mystic blues that he achieves seem to pierce a clean path through the retinal nerve, project like a luminous, Buddhist “Blue Sky Mind” onto the back wall of the skull and then melt down the brain stem to finally collect and pool somewhere behind the sternum.
Look, for instance, at the 50 x 40 alkyd, oil, and wax piece, breathe: its deep mineral aquamarine lit by yellow, coursing with undercurrents of green, dappled with bits of icy cyan, and marked by a mysterious dark blue-black form which bleeds a bit of red. Can you feel it? That ice-edged ache, so alive within the painting, slowly takes up residence in the body as you look. As you sink into these paintings – they, in turn, sink into you.
It doesn’t take long for the viewer to see that the works included in Evanescence are palimpsests, a chronicle written in color and texture that adds more than just depth, but history. This matches with Walding’s process – not only does he work using a painstaking process of applying paint, removing it, reapplying, removing, on and on, layer by layer – but these paintings are often created over the course of multiple years. What is not there, what has vanished or been erased, somehow becomes in the final viewing, almost as important as what remains. Walding’s act of using a knife to etch into the layers of paint, making geometric shapes that reveal contrasts and striking juxtapositions of color, confirms for us something we instinctively know – that there is “more going on here” than can be gleaned from a quick glance.
Perhaps it is partly that persistence of absence in these pieces that contributes to the sense of mystery and loss that seems to haunt them. Evanescence is more than just the name of the series – it quite aptly hints at the deeper resonance these pieces emit. While in modern advertising language evanescence may be used to talk about bubbly drinks (from its tangential connection to vapor) – at its core, the noun is about the process of gradually disappearing: to vanish, to disappear, to be forgotten. Add to this the understanding that Walding was quite directly inspired in these works by images of melting Antarctic ice and the picture begins to clear.
This isn’t to say that these are paintings of ice. They’re not. A piece like evanescent or breach with their pale blues frosted by white, edged by pale algae-bloom green, or lined sharply by reds or oranges is not depiction but gesture – they feel more like memory and strike deeper. They owe at least as much to the delicate and mysterious paintings of 13th century Chan Buddhist monk, Muqi Fachang as they do to drone images of glaciers.
Ultimately, what strikes the viewer so acutely, is that the works of Evanescence are beautiful. This isn’t the beauty of advertisements or easy expectations but of vastness, of awe in its oldest sense (a reverence mixed with fear). It is the feeling that comes with acknowledging the transience of life, of things, of the planet itself. This kind of beauty reminds us that life is fragile and staggeringly complex. These paintings are beautiful because of the way that that blue pool of reflected light polling under the breastbone tickles and troubles us. The paintings of Evanescence have a gravity that supports, allowing us to look, see, and to remember.