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Eva Speer
at Charles A. Hartman Fine Art, Portland, Oregon
Recommendation by Richard Speer


Continuing through April 28, 2012


If you equate hyperrealist painting with a kind of illusionist magic trick, then Eva Speer [no relation to the writer - Ed.] is that rare magician who actually lets her audience in on her secrets. In "Superficial Injuries" she paints seascapes that are generally so astonishingly realistic, they could, from mid-distance, be easily mistaken for photographs. But Speer takes the unexpected step of rendering key passages in wholly incongruous styles.  In the upper-right corner of "New Pollution" a cresting wave looks as if it came straight out of an ukiyo-e woodblock print. In "Untitled (Black Sea)" the artist has scraped off the dark, top layer of paint to reveal candy-colored underpainting, while in "Back Water" she transects the picture plane in a way that subtly but jarringly offsets the waves. The effect resembles a picture that has been faxed and distorted by transmission problems. 


What each of these passages accomplishes is a disorientation of the viewer’s perception, a breaking of the fourth wall to reveal that perhaps the great and mighty wizard might just be a little man crouched behind a curtain. That Speer carries this conceit off with supreme panache is a tribute to the seriousness of her intent.  The paintings come across neither as gimmicky nor grandiose, but as earnest entreatments of the viewer to leave all aesthetic presuppositions at the door.

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