In the past, Eric Zener has been compared to existential painters Edward Hopper (Nighthawks, 1942) and Andrew Wyeth (The Helga Pictures, 1971-1985), but there is no void, no crisis of the human heart in his new exhibit at Foster/White Gallery. The Great Escape renders visually the serenity of the human heart in commune with nature. Irenic, carefree bodies float in the rich, dark hues of water amid bursts of incandescent light from the world above. Subjects meditate weightlessly underwater (Summer Stretch, 2014), the current carries dreamy men and women along benignly (Staying Afloat (in Suit) I, 2014), and people of all ages and sizes play on the beach as innocent as children (Happy People II (All the Therapy You Will Ever Need), 2014), proving once and for all that water really does was away all sins.
Anyone familiar with Zener’s body of work can see that The Great Escape is a decade-long culmination of his underwater paintings that share a clear commonality. The technique Zener has painstakingly perfected— photo transparencies over foil and painted with layers of resin— is one that can be enjoyed from any angle. From afar, the mixed media works are as clear as photographs; up close, the layers come apart as if exploring a 3D painting from the inside. The technique and perspective are unique in that they submerge the viewer with the subject, forcing them to float effortlessly along. It's a dip worth taking, one of pure elation.
Eric Zener: The Great Escape
Thru May 31, Foster/White Gallery, Free