crashing the party
the arty-fact paintings
AFA Gallery May 22 - June 26, 2011
The paintings of Tom Everhart have always allowed the viewer to play with the familiar and its unexpected reinterpretation. When Charles Schulz recognized that Tom was inspired by his painterly line and had discovered new artistic ways to portray it, Schulz gave Everhart exclusive and free artistic license to use the PEANUTS™ characters as subject matter for the duration of his lifetime. Since 1989, Everhart has built an extraordinary body of work based on the instantly recognizable image of Snoopy. The viewer is lured into the work with vibrant colors and pop icons, and quickly discovers the emotionally complex and socially provocative meanings that are just under the surface, and are the hallmark of the artist’s work.
Since his last major exhibition in 2007, Everhart has pushed the boundaries of his medium far beyond normal expectations. He has explored the depth of color by literally sculpting with paint, and in this new collection he has put that aside to isolate the color and expose it in a unique way. Only when one views the numerous small paintings together can one comprehend the full complexity of the artist’s vision.
"I’m interested in light as a property of color, not as an illusion. Instead of trying to paint the illusion of light, I’m actually working with these transparent layers of light in themselves. The light is inherently part of the color," says Tom Everhart.
Everhart attempts to create a dialog among the paintings that addresses his concern about overpopulation and the strain it has put on world resources while juxtaposing this against the isolated, open, tropical areas that seem to live in harmony with nature. On a more personal level, Crashing the Party is Everhart’s way of expressing how he feels about the artistic path he has chosen. Putting aside a classical education, Everhart brazenly carved out a successful career in the fine art world with his paintbrush and sheer audacity. His choice to focus an entire career on the subject matter of a single cartoon is considered scandalous within various circles of his own art community, but inevitably, this superficial viewpoint disintegrates when the sophistication of the work exposes itself. Ironically, it is a situation that the artist has continued to regard with humor for the past 22 years while enjoying such success as an exhibition in Paris at the Louvre.
Everhart understands that part of the appeal of his paintings is the attention to color and line. The element that originally brought Everhart to Schulz was a fascination with the “brilliant architecture of Schulz’s black ink line and its potential for monumental shifts in tone and scale.” Everhart’s love of Schulz's line – and his remarkable ability to capture it and vividly interpret it – impressed Schulz and launched a friendship that continued until Schulz’s death in 2000. “I had this collaboration with Charles Schulz,” Tom says, “and since his death that collaboration has ended. I want to keep the work growing, because keeping the work growing means that it’s alive.”
Everhart is constantly in search of, what he calls, “the evolution of the mark.” From the expressionistic slashes of his early works, to the prismatic dots of the last few years, to the sculptural tendencies of his most recent works, Everhart’s strengths have remained an unmatched eye for color and a willingness to experiment with textures and surfaces. In the medium of fine art lithography, Everhart has mastered the creation of subtle transparencies and reflective light with hand-mixed inks. He has created limited-edition lithographs that have sold out in the US, Asia and Europe since the early 1990‘s.