Carefully layered subtle color, light from within;
vertical shapes and lines relating to space and time;
beautifully composed and skillfully painted.
These are the works of Chris Neyen.
Neyen's new abstract paintings are suggestive of nature's forest. Some of
the vertical formations are reminiscent of close ups of grasses and vines,
others suggest trees and shadows of trees.
Unlike Diebenkorn or Rothko who in their landscape-related abstractions,
work with the horizon line thus conveying the enormity of space, Neyen's
abstractions are vertically oriented, close-up and complex. The unique brand
of intimacy created in these paintings are bound to engage the viewer to
step closer to explore the nuances and hues of color and wonder about what
lays underneath each layer of oil paint.
With a seemingly invisible brush, many of the works monochromatic, some with
minimal range of color, Neyen achieves a lyrical and at times mysterious
quality in his paintings. There is an unsettling calmness about these
works, especially in "Unseen" and "The Art of Seeing" that simultaneously
evokes a sense of vulnerability and strength. In fact, it is the tension
provided by this fragile tranquility that these works derive their depth,
humanity and beauty from.
The subtle color and the clear considerations of aesthetics - meaning,
making art that is beautiful, firmly places Chris Neyen as a kindred spirit
to what critics coined the Tonalists - not so much a movement but a way of
seeing. The visceral quality of Edward M. Bannister's landscape, the
emphasis on mood in Edward Steichen's photography and the assuring quietness
(yet something is/was there) that is Whistler's trademark, can be found in
Neyen's paintings. Like these earlier painters -- though their work was of
an entirely different approach --- with all their tactile qualities -- their
works' distinctive characteristic, like Neyen's, lies in the implied.
Whether it is veiled sentiment, tension, fear or hope- while seeing the
tangible beauty in these works, one can't help but contemplate the UNSEEN.
Kiki Nienaber, Director C.A.N Studio