Bowery Gallery:   Simon Carr: Scenes and Stories: Recent Paintings   Feb 28-March 25, 2017


Crosing the Stream
acrylic on canvas
50 x 50 in.

At one point – over a decade ago – Simon Carr was producing large paintings with overtly religious themes, in complex, swirling compositions suited to his dramatic subjects: “The Miracle at Cana," “Study for 'Riot in Ephesus.'” His nearly two dozen paintings currently on view at Bowery Gallery show the same luminous color and eagerly reworked textures, but the spirituality has taken a subtler guise. These recent paintings lift everyday scenes – of New York City streets and shops, and upstate horse pastures – to the realm of the soulful. Setting aside Biblical dramas, the artist has turned an empathetic eye to his own environment, uncovering the bright exoticness of the familiar. (Disclosure: as a fellow member of Bowery Gallery, I have known Simon Carr for many years.)
Captured broadly in scumbled strokes, Carr’s almost featureless pedestrians and horseback riders resonate like natural condensations of their surroundings. The artist’s gift for enveloping, atmospheric space shows throughout. Dog-walkers and stroller-pushing parents move before sunset skies, bathed in a palpable and very particular light. Pedestrians and dogs dot the sidewalk in front of a bakery at night; the mute gestures of both say worlds about their connectiveness, as mothers tend to toddlers and dogs stretch leashes to touch noses.  Each painting comprises in effect a mise-en-scène, realized through an affectionate choreography of the gestures of humans, animals, and their accessories.
Forms and colors insist with an especially urgent, almost primal force in “Crossing the Stream,” (2016), in which the dominating, repeating verticals of horses press upon us as if we stood within the canvas’ pictorial space. And in “Hydrangea, Black Eyed Susan, Liatris” (2014), one of four still lifes in the exhibition, several kinds of blossoms face bravely into the light, resisting the raking illumination that carves their delicate volumes; below, with the full gravity of houses, vases hold before the flood of light. Such events are indeed spiritual, catching the life of objects as they find their characters within shimmering spaces.

Bowery Gallery
530 W 25 Street, New York NY 10001
646.230.6655 · www.bowerygallery.org