D’Amelio Terras is pleased to present the first solo show of small gouache paintings on paper from 1980 to 2001 by New York artist Philip Van Aver. Van Aver creates detailed images of Baroque figures, decorative objects, flowers and plants enclosed in vibrant, coloristic borders. The compositions borrow formal ideas of recurring figures and spatial relations from Surrealism yet there is no effort to depict light or depth. Pure perspective and real objects are drawn together in a straight-forward harmony which Van Aver says is influenced by the direct imagery of traditional folk music, “but like The Child Ballads there is often an evocative undertone of menace or violence.”
Van Aver’s subjects range from the Washington State landscapes of his youth to repeating renditions of Dido ensconced in ferns, Lilies of the Valley and bluebells seen in Central Park. There is an attention to costume and Van Aver’s depictions of figures in various dramatic and narrative situations reference the early 20th century French fashion magazine, La Gazette du Bon Ton, as well as 18th century Japanese woodblock prints of women by Kitagawa Utamaro.
In the early 1960s Van Aver was part of the San Francisco artistic literary community where he illustrated publications for Dave Haselwood’s Auerhahn Press from 1961-63 and The Grabhorn-Hoyem Press from 1967-70. Van Aver’s first solo exhibition was with William Sabersky Gallery in Los Angeles, CA, in 1962. His artworks are in the collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and The San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art. Van Aver has illustrated for numerous publications including New York Magazine, Vogue, Harpers Bazaar and The New York Times. Since the 1970s, Van Aver has been active with the political club Coalition for a District Alternative (CoDA), the Lower East Side Preservation Initiative and the Metropolitan Postcard Collectors Club.