Friday, October 17, 2014

Marginals & Mystics: Collage Mixed Media by Evan Clayton Horback at Salon Refu

Published in the Weekly Volcano, Oct. 16, 2014

Heading to Jersey, collage
It has been 100 years since Picasso and Braque invented the technique of collage. In more contemporary times the technique has degenerated to either warmed-up Kurt Schwitters or to bizarre and often comical combinations of surrealistic imagery which tend to be more gimmicky than artistic. Notable exceptions have been the works of Robert Rauschenberg and Romare Bearden.

Evan Clayton Horback, a relative newcomer to Olympia, has made the technique special again — art with integrity and class, art that is more Rauschenbergian and Schwitters, yet uniquely Horback. That’s what good artists do.

Horback is an East Coast transplant who should be showing his work in major galleries in Seattle and Portland and will be soon if there’s if there’s any justice in this world. Meanwhile, Susan Christian has thankfully recognized his talent and has given him an excellent showcase in her gallery, Salon Refu.

untitled collage
The show is a mixture of paintings and collages, and the paintings are truly collages in concept if not in technique. He sees collage not just as a technique for creating imagery but as a compositional tool, a means of arranging images, shapes, colors and textures in sometimes startling and always pleasing ways.

I didn’t count, but by rough estimate there are about 40 pieces in the show. All but one set of nine collages on book covers are rough in texture, most done on burlap pasted on board with the edges left in a rough state. I love the scruffy surfaces.

In close to half of the paintings and collages there are line drawings of faces or figures superimposed over collage elements. These line drawings are purposefully crude yet elegant and remind me a lot of drawings by Seattle artist Fay Jones as well as Andy Warhol’s early, pre-pop paintings and drawings. There are also a lot with fields of dots over collage elements. I would have a hard time explaining why, but these really work nicely.

“Oblations (X3)” is a set of three line drawings of young boys cropped at the top and repeated at the bottom to create the illusion of the kind of infuriating rolling television images that used to be common. The word “Triples” is written in script in blue on a diagonal band of black offering sharp contrasts which nevertheless fits with the repetitive figures.

The largest and one of the strongest paintings is “Subhadra,” a close-up image of a woman’s face cropped so all we see is chin and lips combined with a band of rectangular shapes in red, blue and yellow. The texture in this one is like an old billboard that has been ripped almost to shreds and the face looks like an enlarged halftone that has been driven over by a tractor.

This little gallery continues to offer shows by the very best artists in the area. Horback’s work is intelligent, honest and beautiful. You really should see this one.

Evan Clayton Horback: Marginals & Mystics , Thursday-Sunday, 2-6 p.m. through Oct. 26, Salon Refu 114 N Capitol Way, Olympia,

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