Eric Zener is the American photorealist artist best known for figure paintings of lone subjects. His work focuses on landscapes, figures in bed, or businessmen in various unexpected settings (read: tightropes). But the majority of his paintings look at bodies in water, often in or about swimming pools, beaches, and now water parks. Gallery Henoch will present Eric Zener latest series of paintings called Twists & Turns starting April 30.
Zener is a self-taught artist born in 1966, in Astoria, Oregon. As of 2004, he had impressively created more than 600 works. He mostly paints in oil, creating a photorealist or super-realist style that he describes as “Contemporary Renaissance”.
In a new series of work, Zener takes on the iconic imagery of gigantic coils and spiraling loops of water slides. Transporting all his viewers back to their childhood days of begging their parents to let them visit a waterpark on holidays. The vibrant reds, blues, and oranges are meant to represent the frenzy, anxiety and thrill caused by these amusement park rides.
In 2003, while living in the Costa Brava region of Spain, Zener became fascinated in watching bathers and how people interacted with water. Many paintings from this period depict women swimming underwater surrounded by air bubbles or diving into the water, and have been described as reminiscent of Hudson River School and Barbizon School painters. This was a mid-19th century American art movement embodied by a group of landscape painters whose aesthetic vision was influenced by romanticism.
Zener cleverly manipulates light to create psychologically charged atmospheres for his subjects. Their faces are never revealed in his work, nonetheless his subjects always appear exposed, whether it be while wrapped in bed sheets or immersed in water.
Zener views these solitary instances as profound experiences in the face of nature’s grand scale. “Regardless of who you are or where you come from, we all feel a great sense of ‘transformation’ from the world above when we are submerged in the blue water of a pool or the boundless space of the sea,” he says.