SAVERY Gallery is thrilled to present a Two-Person Exhibition opening in February 2016. WIDE EYED is an up close and personal exhibition of new paintings and sculpture by Baltimore Artists Nicole Dyer and Dave Eassa.
Opening Wednesday, February 3rd, the exhibition will run through Saturday, February 27th with a reception for the Artists on First Friday, February 5th from 6 to 9 PM.
WIDE EYED catalogues the trials and nuances of waking up every day to do the same damn thing; at times humorous, at times heart wrenching, but always relatable. With striking, highly developed personal visual languages, Nicole Dyer and Dave Eassa lay it on thick, posing questions and pouring out their feelings like paint into nakedly autobiographical bodies of work.
Visually the Artists are complementary but not identical. Their palettes are unexpected, painting skin in bruised purples and hot reds; for them color is often more emotional than representational. And each has a practice rooted in drawing, using line to starkly delineate their compositions. Dyer is bored by black and draws colorful lines directly onto the canvas with crayon or tempura stick, sometimes concealing the original drawing with acrylic, sometimes leaving it visible. Eassa sees line later, squeezing bright, raised beads of paint across his carefully planned canvases that lock their details into place. For each, the process is metaphorical; they are coloring inside the lines of their earlier choices. Just as the work is restrained by its own materials, the Artists are imprisoned in cages constructed by their own choices and actions. They feel trapped and they are struggling to get out, even if it means being a little bad.
Dave Eassa’s almost morbid fascination with human behavior surfaces throughout his Deck of Cards series, a kaleidoscopic and textural meditation on the saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Moving away from representations of real space on the canvas such as the office or the ‘man cave,’ he brings this new work into a at, idealized space where things happen just as they are supposed to. Habits, daily minutiae, figures, and objects mirror each other as the repetition of symbols mimic the habitual repetition of actions. The paintings are quick and responsive, considering how daily rituals and activities affect us for better or worse and teach us right from wrong. But the emotional space, like the imagery, feels flattened. It is ironic that the depth of the statement he is attempting to make about our morals and motivations is illustrated by such trite, overused cliché.
Eassa only begins to break out when in the gallery space, as paintings literally slide off the wall into sculptures. Three dimensional cats, covered with brightly dripping and oozing paint, are the foil to Eassa’s middle-aged professional. The cats inhabit the same world in a completely different way: awake at night, laying around all day, living a life without responsibility or choices. One cat, gluttonous and self-satisfied, eats flowers out of an indoor flower pot. The cat has been told over and over not to eat the plants, only making the cat want them more. It is a bad behavior, but only in relation to the expectations of them that they do not rise to. Being ‘bad’ suddenly becomes desirable, a nod to the fact that we are often more inclined to do something after we are told not to. The cats openly do what the professional yearns to do: they reject expectations for behavior, acting out in order to assert their complexity and individuality.
Nicole Dyer shrugs off her own bad behavior, working through a Quarter-Life Crisis of sexual missteps and social anxiety. A true Millenial Sad-Girl, she does not shy away from blunt depictions of blowjobs, morning-afters, crushing texts, and tender embraces. But she smiles through her tears, laughingly exploring that emotional place where “when something is sad, you tell it as a joke.” Her work is beautifully composed in a plush palette of jewel tones and patterns, playing between realism and elaboration reminiscent of the Artist Nicole Eisenman. Through her delicate treatment these moments of deep insecurity and rejection become somehow softened, the bright color lightening the mood. But like a funhouse mirror she distorts and stretches these moments out of proportion: at first they look fun, but it quickly becomes apparent that it actually isn’t any fun at all.
Dyer paints mostly for herself, playing her memories out before her on the canvas. In painting she feels freedom, curating her experiences, revisiting and reworking until she ‘gets over it’ and quickly moves on. This is not to say that she is oblivious to her audience. In fact she’s almost painfully aware, frequently painting herself from behind as if in an out of body experience. Or she places the viewpoint in an extreme close-up, going over the smallest details of her memories. In this way she’s also a spectator, watching herself as closely as we do. Even in the absence of her own figure we still feel her gaze. In the painting ‘Max’s Bed’, Dyer offers up her attachment to a boy she can’t have as shown through a distanced observation of his bedroom as it was left the morning after. She attempts to show intimacy and a very human space without any figures: through tousled sheets, a discarded cigarette, and half-filled water cups. We view the scene through her eyes, feeling all of her feelings as we regard a familiar space in the cold light of day.
All together, WIDE EYED is a tragicomedy between Dyer and Eassa. Both are reciting lines, directed through motions, playing the part of the stereotypical crisis of their own sex. Dyer is lovesick without direction, languishing in bad decisions in social life and love. Eassa is fascinated yet repelled by the constructs that surround us, both inflicted by social mores and self imposed, and which lead to the relentless question : “was this all worth it?” In the Artists’ explorations of their own dark sides they lean on one other for support, airing out their emotions and weird feelings to each other. But they are also jealous, stealing from the other what they each feel that they need; Dyer’s technically beautiful, controlled chaos finds a little more of Eassa’s clutter and indulgence just as Eassa benefits from Dyer’s calm within the storm. In WIDE EYED, Nicole Dyer and Dave Eassa have each made their own beautiful mess.
Dave Eassa (b. 1991) currently lives and works in Baltimore, MD. He received a BFA in Painting with a concentration in Printmaking from MICA in 2013. In 2014 his work was published in New American Paintings No. 112, and he was awarded an Individual Artist Grant in Sculpture from the Maryland State Arts Council. He currently is a Fellow at the Open Society Institute in Baltimore, MD. where he is the founder and director of “Free Space” a program which brings art to incarcerated individuals at three correctional institutions in the Maryland Correctional System. Eassa has shown nationally and internationally, including exhibitions in Germany, São Tóme and Príncipe, England, New York, Oakland, Washington D.C., and Philadelphia, and his most recent solo exhibition ‘My Mother Always Told Me I'd Grow Up To Be A Lawyer’ was presented by Vox Populi Gallery.
Nicole Dyer (b. 1991) is from Lakeland, FL and currently lives and works in Baltimore, MD. She received her BFA in Drawing, graduating Summa Cum Laude from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2013. Her work has been featured by ArtFCity and Bmore Art, among other platforms. Dyer is a prolific artist with a rich studio practice. She shows widely in group shows and solo exhibitions, and has shown in Ireland as well as in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. She presented her most recent solo exhibition ‘IM SO HAPPY’ at Casa Corval in Los Angeles.