A rtist Alec Egan is an Angeleno,
born and bred, but don’t look for LA-centric references in his work— it’s far broader than that,
encompassing a universal resonance that’s untethered to specifics of time and place.
As the sole artist presented by Anat Ebgi Gallery at this year’s Dallas Art Fair, Egan’s in an enviable position, albeit tempered by serious responsibility.
But the 10 or more of his paintings that will be on view at the Anat Ebgi booth comprise an exciting introduction to Egan’s vision, and serve as an emblematic thumbnail of the seven-year-old gallery’s adventurous program.
Egan’s world is equal parts cacophonous color, repetitive, even combative, patterns, and a restless probing of memory, nostalgia, and identity.
While his paintings are typically devoid of figures, there are echoes of people everywhere, ghostly reverberations of human life that populate the rooms depicted in his canvases.
“Hopefully it adds to this push and pull with the viewer,” Egan says. “Is it your room? I want to imply the viewer, but also imply the presence of whoever this fictional character is, the absence of him in the paintings.”
Nostalgia is a key piece of his aesthetic, and shards of childhood memory are a common element throughout Egan’s oeuvre.
“My own definition of nostalgia would be some type of beautiful pain in looking back, a desirable pain…,” he continues.
“It’s a very personalized thing—you could find something nostalgic that I never would.”
The backgrounds in his paintings are often wallpaper patterns, occasionally so pronounced that they compete with subject matter,
challenging traditional notions of background and foreground. “It’s the linguistic nature of the paintings,” he says.
“I do a lot of repetition of patterns, like a crocheted throw pillow against a flower wallpaper, with a flower-patterned lampshade, or actual flowers in the vase against the flower pattern.
The patterns on the patterns—it becomes bizarre and kinda psychological.
And it’s autobiographical in the sense that the inception of these patterns comes from a real place, similar to wallpaper patterns in my grandparents’ house, trying to construct my own identity.”
Although Egan’s subjects can be quotidian, some of his paintings evoke the timeless boldness of Japanese masters like Hiroshige,
Hokusai, even Takashi Murakami, heroically recalibrated through his graphic, surreal paint-by-number palette.
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