Darren Waterston: What’s up with the sublime?

In the San Francisco Chronicle Daniel N. Alvarez reports that Darren Waterston’s paintings are sparked by his interest in past artists’ attempts to depict the vast, all-encompassing world of the sublime. “Waterston took more than 18 months to craft the show, a process he says involved exploring the abstracted ideas of the sublime by looking at ‘the mental, physical and metaphysical states of the sublime’ and using ‘imagery around auroras, while looking at natural phenomena around how the sublime has been represented over history.’ The show features three large-scale paintings, numerous mid-sized works and a salon-style wall with several small panel paintings and works on paper. The centerpiece, ‘Assumption,’ is a massive, overwhelming 2-by-12-foot, oil-on-wood panel piece. The painting is of an ethereal landscape, littered with shadowy figures that are in stark contrast to the bright white atmosphere all around them.

“‘It’s about a 14-foot-long, horizontal piece. It’s a stretched out sort of landscape, where the sky has centrifugal gradations, that build this pictorial space in the heavens.’ While images that deal with what he calls ‘the architecture of heaven’ may lead one to believe that this will be a wholly peaceful landscape, Waterston warns us otherwise. ‘The sublime is not always supposed to be a calming, sort of meditative state. It can be a place where nature destroys you. The rush of the sublime is that something can be beautiful and horrific at the same time, that it has the power to break you down. These paintings play with that a lot. They are not necessarily all quieting images.'” Read more.

Darren Waterston: Recent Paintings and Works on Paper,” Haines Gallery, San Francisco, CA. Through June 13.

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