New Haven sculptor Gar Waterman and Chinese brush painter Shen Dawei show their work side-by-side at the Silk Road Art Gallery’s latest East/West exhibit, Ephemeral, Eternal: Meditations on Nature, which will remain open through Thursday, April 16.
Shen Dawei is a well respected landscape artist from the ancient political and cultural capital of Xi’an, China. His landscapes depict journeys through the artist’s own interpretations of the mountains of China – along with a few studies from more familiar local scenery. Gar Waterman’s work organic form with a combination of observation of natural phenomena, sensual devotion to the tactile possibilities of material, and a model maker’s tinkering sensibility.
The work of the two artists shows a common reverence for the majesty and mystery of nature, a dedication to exposing its beauty, and an unwillingness to be bound by literalism in their work. Both artists eschew postmodernism in favor of what they see as the enduring beauty inherent in nature, form, and craft.
Shen Dawei’s landscapes lead the viewer on a journey up mountains that exist only in his mind – amalgams of the sights and impressions he has taken away from his climbs up and down the mountains of his native China. Employing a flattened perspective, multiple focal points, and signature splashes of occasional color, Shen Dawei’s idyllic mountain scenes are simultaneously traditional and contemporary, timeless and in motion.
Gar Waterman’s sculpture reflects the artist’s enduring fascination with seed forms – the mysterious ambiguity of encapsulating both beginning and end, a brief moment in a cycle far older than humanity itself. His works in wood and stone magnify and subtly modify the moment of germination in which the first shoot – the cotyledon – emerges upon germination, and the seed splits open to reveal the secret organic forms within.