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.

The beaches, bays, skim tides, and luminous skies of Maine and Massachusetts are motifs that the artist has depicted with increasing adroitness over the years. But attractive as these littoral vistas were, the most ambitious works in this eloquent show were scenes of France. French Field & Pond (2006) represents an autumnal European Version of Wayne Thiebaud's alluvial deltas.

Rocamodor II (2006) is filled with conical trees that dovetail with wedge-shaped fields, groves, and roads: Cézanne's turf. In this standout painting, the viewer's eye is drawn to a red-roofed white building that is perched atop far-off rolling hills. Haloed with pale, blocky, brushstrokes and set against an otherwise darkening sky, the building glows like a light source. The eye lingers there, in the distance, where a sense of the sublime prevails.


– Gerard Haggerty