John Evans is a Boston based painter of seascapes and landscapes; his subjects range from the coast of Cape Cod and the North Shore of Massachusetts to the meadows of central France. Painting in oil, often on large canvases, Evans offers what seem to be requiems for less frantic, more easygoing times, and viewers may well have mixed feelings on seeing such grand vistas of shoreline and sea in a time of damaging ecological change. The isolated objects in his paintings - boats and docks - are stand-ins for human presences that cannot compete with the visual grandeur of his spacious views. Study of the works ultimately shows Evans to be not so much elegiac as romantic, favoring habitats that allow him to fallow his penchant for epic naturalism.
John Evans’s landscapes are poised between depictions of the natural world and the constructed reality of oil paint that has been brushed, rolled with a brayer, palette - knifed, scraped away, and repainted — repeatedly — to produce a surface that looks like raw silk. Picasso tells us that “a picture is the sum of its destructions." In expansive canvases like Evans's 6-by-9 foot Transparency & Reflection (2007), that sum is carefully calculated so that each and every brushstroke seem to occupy a distinct spatial location. A handful of representational elements — buoys, bright little boats, and, occasionally, beachcombers — were artfully scattered throughout his coastal scenes in ways that give Evans's illusory space a sense of specificity.
Artists of the Romantic movement in the 19th century wrestled earnestly to express their experience of what they called "Sehnsucht", a profound sense of inner longing in the presence of the transcendent, numinous other (be it nature, or a beloved, or God). The best art revealed this subject/object relationship where we come to recognize both ourselves and something outside of ourselves. The idea of Sehnsucht continues to have power today, because what lies at its heart, the terrible awareness of our simultaneous isolation and connectedness, is so deeply woven into the fabric of the human condition.
– Clifford Davis Associate Professor of Art Rivier College, Nashua, New Hampshire
The progress of an artist is a curious phenomenon to track. The rare genius, like Picasso, grows by leaps and bounds, changing tack every few years (or even months) to move into ever more fruitful and explosive terrain. At the opposite end of the spectrum are painters like Giorgio Morandi and Amedeo Modigliani, who quietly settle into a groove to pursue a satisfying signature style for the span of a long or brief career.
– Ann Landi is a contributing editor of ARTnews and author of the Schirmer Encyclopedia of Art
The paintings of John Evans reveal a transcendent Iove affair with the New England coast. While studying at Boston University, John first came into regular contact with the rocky islands, secretive wetlands and beaches that frame the Atlantic. Now the places of solitude that John seeks are becoming increasingly rare; as population densities along the coast explode, uninterrupted vistas are replaced by expansive highways and anonymous architecture. However, the raw beauty of the coast survives in key locations, and John knows where to find every one of these spots.
Alternately serene and dramatic, John Evans's radiant representations of the Cape Cod coast and upstate New York's Mohawk Valley are always thoughfully composed. His landscapes depict clouds scudding over empty shorelines and silhouetted piers, and vivid little boats and the reflecitons they cast. Seen at a distance, the works' interlocking triangles and generally rectilinear organization appear arranged but altogether natural. Up close, much of the brushwork looks like small blocks that buttress the banded overview.
– Gerard Haggerty, New York Reviews, Summer 2003, ARTnews
There is a special luminosity arising from most of John Evans' seven works at the Allan Stone Gallery created by a most complex and intricately worked surface. While there are some odd viewer angles, and a virtuoso display of the palette knife at work, the final impact of each work - or, rather, each but one - is neither novel or spectacular, but rather appealing, a display of light as color, and color is clearly at the command of the artist. Up close all is revealed, the strokes and smears, the overworkings and underpaintings, much is direct and all continue to make a painting no matter how close one creeps - the surface does not collapse into the means, the brushwork, but retains the image.
– JBB, Review, Reviews & previews of current exhibitions in New York March 1, 1997