AUSTIN EDDY | SEEUFERWEG
For his first solo exhibition at Livie, the New York painter Austin Eddy presents a walk along the shore. The ten works on display in Seeuferweg were inspired by the landscape in the artist’s native New England—from Maine to upstate New York—as well as his home in Brooklyn, and abroad, in France and Switzerland. But while geographical specificity is key to these works (inspired as they are by America’s homegrown philosophy: transcendentalism) it is also beside the point. Instead of charting a cartography of memory, Eddy paints a course through time.
Along the way, there are birds. Swans, ducks, seagulls—Eddy presents these waterfowl as a faux-naif assortment of shapes. Semicircle wings, isosceles beaks, dots for eyes, the birds are less feathered than formal iterations. And yet, they’ve got such personality. As they twist their necks to better regard themselves (and us) they become our mirrors—stand-ins for the rippling reflexiveness of the self. Call it empathy in the Anthropocene, or the drive to get back to nature, if there wasn’t something pre-contemporary about the works. Eddy has long borrowed from folk art to historicize the present, to toy with the objecthood of art objects, or to simply rev-up fresh excitement for the natural world. Here, he feels most comfortable far from the irony of the city.
That said, the birds themselves are birds only at a remove. Eddy paints them from memory; they are abstractions of observation. One finds a more direct route to nature in his palette. Constructed out of flashe and ground oil stick on canvas-mounted paper, the paintings embrace moods and moments. In the grayed-out sky we see a foggy morning. In the bright pink water we bask in the heat of a summer evening. Eddy isolates then rearranges these notes of the natural world, allowing each painting to pulse with desire and estrangement.
Eddy has long used pattern as structure and content, relying on its regimented logic to ground subject matter, to energize the eye, and to situate contemporary painting within the humble, utilitarian armature of craft. Here, pattern is minimized. The paintings’ rhythms are instead created by the interplay of color. Stripes and concentric rings do appear, but almost as vestiges of earlier paintings. Pattern creates perspective, both within the pictorial space, and the artist’s career.
To move through the gallery is to participate in Eddy’s attempt at painting remembered experience. The walks combine to form one walk, the days one day, and both artist and viewer are left, both within and outside of time, to follow the path down to the water. These paintings trace the ongoing confrontation between oneself and the world, and how that border between self and surrounding continually shifts, eventually resulting in the contours of a lifetime.
Austin Eddy (b. 1986) earned his BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2010. He now lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Since graduating he has exhibited nationally and internationally. His most recent solo exhibitions include: Light Reflecting Distance, The Pit, Los Angeles, CA; The Poet And The Muse, Sabine Knust Munich DE; Birds At Night, Althuis Hoffland Fine Arts Amsterdam NL.
He has also had solo exhibitions at The Horticultural Society of New York, The University of Kentucky Hospital, Lexington, Kentucky, Half Gallery, New York, and SoCo Gallery, Charlotte, North Carolina. He has also been included in various group exhibitions at Berggruen Gallery San Francisco, The Pit Los Angeles, Shrine Gallery, New York, Alexander Berggruen, New York, Adams And Ollman, Portland, Oregon, Galleri Thomassen, Gothenburg, Sweden. He has also been included in group exhibitions at The Urban Institute of Contemporary Art, Grand Rapids, Michigan; Museum Of Contemporary Art, Atlanta, Georgia; The New Hampshire Institute of Art, Manchester, New Hampshire and Museum Of Contemporary Art Detroit, Detroit MI.
Image 1 (slideshow on top):
Seeuferweg, Sonnenuntergang. 2021
Oil, flashe, paper on canvas
152.4 x 88.9 cm
Image 2 (slideshow on top):
View from Dijon Plage. 2020
Ink on paper
55.9 x 38.1 cm
Photos: Esther Mathis