Paintings presents six works in oil on canvas from 2006, wherein carefully composed renderings of amateur erotic video stills have been overpainted with flowing brushstrokes and impastoed elements of landscape-inspired abstraction.
Immersive and confrontational, the paintings oscillate between eroticized figuration and painterly abstraction, melding two distinctly unique, yet equally complex manners of painting into one. It is within this dual space that these images reverberate, raising pertinent questions regarding contemporary representations of sexual intimacy, the mercurial role of abstraction, and how we as individuals assume the oft times violent and sublime aspects of nature.
The influential Chilean poet Pablo Neruda wrote in his treatise Toward an Impure Poetry that “those who shun the `bad taste’ of things will fall flat on the ice.” Stevens’s paintings might be seen as gesturing toward an impure painting, one that, not unlike Neruda’s ecstatic poetry, reveals an unexpected beauty and grace of the banal in the face of the sublime. These paintings offer us, through their sheer dissonances and unexpected harmonies, a sense of prescient inquiry that invites the viewer to look upon them freely and unselfconsciously, while at the same time reflecting on some of the difficult issues facing representation and abstraction today.