October 1-31, 2015
Opening Reception: Thursday, October 1, 5:30-7:30 PM
All of Kanevsky’s paintings—even those that depict interior scenes—appear to have been painted en plein air. Regardless of setting, an intoxicating roar of air rips through each work. Here, heady gusts loosen the brushwork and move the forms around, opening them up and allowing gestures, colors, and shapes to pass through newly awakened fissures. As a result, these super-saturated compositions practically pulsate. Bodies multiply and appear and disappear; perspective shifts and rooms transform; water, sky, and foliage are locked in perpetual motion; negative space becomes positive and positive, negative. It is in this wild alchemy of movement that Kanevsky’s paintings find their singular impact.
This dynamism is primarily generated by Kanevsky’s penchant for expressionistic brushwork and color modulation, wherein unexpected additions of complementary colors reign. In addition to these formal elements, the paintings are animated in vital ways through his choice of subject matter, which is often steeped in myth, history, and legend. Nudes also figure prominently in his oeuvre, and are often presented bathing, lying on beds or on the floor, and, more often than not, directly facing the viewer and boldly baring all. There is a candidness and confidence about these figures—an honesty that makes it nearly impossible to feel coy while gazing at them. JWI in the Dark Studio (2015) is especially forthright: the nude female subject stands facing the viewer, her arms raised slightly as if in welcome, her face gazing up toward some unknown warmth despite the darkness. She is so uninhibited, so luminous in her own skin, that her dim surroundings radiate with flashes of flesh-colored light, as if channeling their inhabitant’s energy.
The majority of Kanevsky’s recent paintings are set in or somehow inflected by the natural world. In R.L. with Landscape (2014), for example, a female subject is seated, naked save for a sky-blue linen draped across her lap. She’s there, but she’s not: we see her right arm, her lap, and her thighs, but the top half of her body is interrupted and intercut by what appears to be green foliage, while the bottom half of her legs merge with some indeterminate matter. Although her form is fractured, the viewer is still able to apprehend her in full. In fact, it’s nearly impossible for her to be read as incomplete because, as Kanevsky posits via the painting’s title, we are not “in” the world or “surrounded by” the world, but rather forever “with” the world: one and the same.
Alex Kanevsky was born in 1963 in Rostov-na-Donu, Russia, and studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. He has been the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards, including the Pew Fellowship for painting. In addition to exhibiting extensively across North America and Europe, he has had work acquired into such prestigious collections as the Achenbach Collection at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco Museums. In 2011, he participated in the exhibition “HEADS,” curated by Peter Selz, at the Dolby Chadwick Gallery.