RVW | Eric Stotik : New Work
A recent alumni reviews a massive and cinematic piece by Eric Stotik '85.
Eric Stotik : New Work
By Laura DeVito, MFA ’13
In 2011, the Regional Arts and Culture Council named Eric Stotik ’85 a RACC Fellow in Visual Arts. That award gave him the time and resources he needed to make artworks that challenged the boundaries of connection and fragmentation.
In an artist talk on September 14, Stotik said the “anchor” of the eleven-paneled piece is Untitled (Study from “Africa Adorned”), 2013. From this piece, he began Untitled, 2013, a massive 5-foot by 45-foot acrylic painting on paper, which you can see at the Laura Russo Gallery from September 5 through 28, 2013. The first and furthest left of the eleven panels depicts a woman cloaked in red, surrounded by blue skies. On her wrist is a metal chain. After finishing this panel, Stotik continued with the panel furthest to the right and worked backward from there. A painted rope connects ten of the eleven panels (all except for the furthest left, which depicts the metal chain.) Stotik says the rope “represents intellect and inner self,” in some circumstances. I’m curious how the metal chain in that first and furthest left panel is different from the rope.
Stotik recollected in his artist talk why he applied to be a Fellow in Visual Arts. He “wanted to get out of his basement” and “work on a grand scale.” At the time, he had also begun making more practical material choices such as using French watercolor paper that was easier to roll up and put in his car. The constraints of mobility and practicality are evident throughout the show; the large paper panels are even hung with pushpins.
The acrylic paintings have a watercolor feel; Stotik uses a modified glazing technique while working on the panels to avoid the plastic look that acrylics tend to show. Stotik doesn’t hide the panels’ imperfections: the paper on the first panel does not match-up completely with the next and the color tones from each panel do not completely blend from one to another. Stotik uses prominent blues to help balance the strong horizontal shape of the entire piece (it is, after all, 45-feet long). He uses reds because, in his words, “it’s not always calm and blue.” Stotik’s sources come from “worthless picture books,” and when asked detailed questions as to why he used a certain technique or approach, he said simply, “I just trust myself to do it. I don’t ask myself why I do this.” In other words, after years of expertise in painting, Stotik is able to intuitively make this work. For Stotik, intuition is a guiding principle.
Stotik described his thought process as being more fragmented. When I asked him if he’d rather have his panels hung in a circular formation, he entertained the idea. He liked that it would connect the panels, but noted that you would never really be able see it the whole piece at once. In a way, I understand this to be how we understand time. We can never be in the past, present, and future all at once; we can only see glimmers of time and how we perceive it in the current moment.
During Stotik’s artist talk, the audience asked many questions about narrative. It’s hard not to when the work resembles a cinematic reel. Though Stotik did not say that the work was narrative (“most of it was done in my mind”), he did however admit that there were, “a lot of [external and] historical references.” One of these references was to medical equipment. Stotik loves the tension that medical equipment brings; it is something that heals but also terrifies. Stotik ended his artist talk with the comment: “I’m not addressing human nature, but the human condition.”
Indeed, in the two years since being awarded the RACC Visual Arts Fellowship, Stotik has made use of time and resources to achieve an astounding piece. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for his painting practice.
Eric Stotik : New Work by Eric Stotik is on view at Laura Russo Gallery in Portland, OR, through September 28, 2013.