Gagosian is pleased to announce an exhibition of new paintings by Cy Gavin. Opening on February 2 at 522 West 21st Street, this will be the artist’s first exhibition with the gallery.
Gavin’s landscape paintings transmute subjective responses to specific places into expansive works with striking palettes and fluid, gestural brushwork. Composed in dimensions that are in keeping with the scale of experience, these paintings interpret the sites and processes of the natural world. In this body of work, Gavin concentrates on subjects he finds in the vicinity of his studio in New York’s Hudson Valley. He proposes a conception of landscape in relation to his status as a citizen and steward of the land, developing ways to explore themes of growth, renewal, and belonging.
Gavin’s paintings respond to the land as he finds it, which he endeavors to preserve and rewild. Made following the artist’s move to his current studio in early 2020, these works are also undergirded by the tensions of our time, which are marked by periods of solitude and upheaval.
Operating both as a gestural abstraction and as a painterly interpretation of a patch of ground near his studio, Untitled (Crossroads/meadow) (2022) depicts the intersection of paths bordered by tall grass in a fiery palette dominated by yellows, oranges, and pinks, evoking the blazing heat and brightness of the late summer sun. Along with the traditional symbolism of directionality and decision-making that is inherent to crossroads, this view presents a previously manicured lawn that the artist allowed to regrow into a meadow, with mown paths allowing access through it.
The verdant Untitled (Paths in a meadow) (2022) revisits the motif, placing the viewer low to the ground so that burgeoning grass and wildflowers divide the picture plane. Untitled (Paths, crossing—blue) (2022) is a nocturnal scene that conveys the enveloping darkness of a moonlit night. Gavin composed the painting with shades of blue that range from the diffuse washes over raw canvas in its foreground to dark, opaque passages that demarcate a tree line and open up to a star-filled sky. In a related palette of blues, Floor Painting #1 (Natural spring) (2023) is a mural-size work inspired by the dynamic waters of a spring. Displayed horizontally, the painting’s surface conveys the experience of looking down into the roiling currents, light variably revealing its depths and movements.
The themes of boundaries and borders are also prominent in Untitled (Rhododendron border) (2022), a painting in which sweeping brushstrokes describe the leaves of a woodland shrub on a dark ground, beyond which nothing can be seen. Its opacity expresses its function: the privacy achieved by a hedge the artist sited along the thoroughfare adjoining his property.
Other conceptions of time, place, and growth emerge in Untitled (Baldcypress) (2022), a painting in complementary hues that expresses the robust growth of one of the many saplings that Gavin has planted on his property. Outside its current natural range, this ancient species of tree once thrived in New York State, with this specimen now brought back to the area. Reflecting a mix of natural forces and the history of human interventions that defines the land, Untitled (Grass growing on a weir) (2022) depicts currents of water as they pass over the concrete slabs of a former dam that is now fully submerged. Simultaneously revealing and concealing visual information, the painting exists as an amalgam of past and present that defines the specificities of this place.
Cy Gavin was born in 1985 in Pittsburgh, and lives and works in New York’s Hudson River Valley. Collections include Baltimore Museum of Art; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; Fondazione Memmo, Rome; and Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris. Solo exhibitions include Aspen Art Museum, CO (2021). Gavin’s work was included in The Lure of the Dark: Contemporary Painters Conjure the Night, MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA (2018); Between the Waters, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2018); RELATIONS: Diaspora and Painting, Phi Foundation for Contemporary Art, Montreal (2020); and the 2022 Whitney Biennial.
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