Alex Kanevsky

Heroes and Animals
October 7 — 30, 2010

Polish Rider, 2010 I oil on Canvas I 66 x 66 inches
Polish Rider, 2010 I oil on Canvas I 66 x 66 inches

To look at a painting by Kanevsky is to look at it for the first time, even if one has visited the piece before. By condensing the structure, content and assorted ephemera of a given scene into a single, saturated moment, refigured forms and gestures are continually impelled to the painting’s surface only to recede in accommodation of future findings. Such honesty and freshness is rooted in Kanevsky’s fidelity to a naïve gaze, an exercise in which the faculties of knowledge are constantly reset so as to stave off tidy assumptions about how things work or what they mean.

By remaining open to an ever-evolving vision of the world, Kanevsky’s paintings deliberately defy stylistic and thematic pigeonholing in an art world obsessed with taxonomic boundaries. His manner of painting is instead motivated by a desire to generate dialogue between subjective personal perception, external reality, and the tenuousness of translation. As Kanevsky explains, “if painting is a form of language, I attempt to create a language, foreign to all but myself, and then say a few things in that language in such a way that would make them clear to anybody who listens, even if the language remains foreign to the listener.”

In order to reconcile these fissures between self-expression and communication, between the 
real and the represented, Kanevsky adopts a technique predicated on the idea of continuous exchange, or fluid conversation. By building up diaphanous layers of paint—each describing a singular, fleeting frame—the resultant painting becomes a palimpsest of elapsed time, like a photograph blurred due to a slow shutter speed. The almost cinematic quality of the compositions’ temporal and spatial siting echoes the dynamism and intensity of Kanevsky’s brushstrokes, which further amplify the sense of motion that both constitutes and defines his sense of the world. These subtly abstracted figures and landscapes work to free the viewer’s own gaze, thereby revealing what unifocal depiction compels us to overlook.

Energy and movement, however, are counterbalanced by an equally palpable sense of stillness. This quiet is manifested in the deeply contemplative moods his paintings evoke and the ethereal quality produced by their visual vigor. Such a paradoxical coupling of forces is exquisitely embodied by Polish Rider 2 (2010), in which the stillness of a hunting horse at rest is held in check by the potential energy contained within the animal’s powerful musculature. The horse’s anonymity, the indeterminate positioning of its rear legs and the dematerialized torso of its rider elicit an ambiguity that nimbly suspends tranquility and flight in favor of an otherworldly middle ground.