In a new body of work by Sam Reveles there emerges from the tilled backgrounds of his paintings and works on paper a gestural conjuring that fosters something not unlike the natural imperative of a biological organism hoping to expand and thrive through cycled replication and explosive movement.
The delicate and meditative groundwork that Reveles lays down on the surface is comprised of carefully tended concentric or radiating outlines that have their origins in various forms taken from nature; the shadow of a twig or the silhouette of a small woodland creature. These patterns, culled from moments or objects that Reveles has collected over time, are a means of organizing the vast and infinite space of the canvas and paper, a way of aerating it for the gestural mark to take root. What becomes something like an organic matrix, like the plowed lines of topsoil across fertile farmland, is the constrained foundation or cultivated seedbed made ready for the outgrowth of what Reveles knows best.
The subject of man’s relationship with nature is at the heart of this body of work. The ongoing struggle to survive off the land with a varied relationship to the landscape made tenable through agriculture is a subject that Reveles knows something about, having grown up in El Paso, Texas. The land surrounding the Rio Grande Valley holds a particular significance in this regard; an arid place that without irrigation would never sustain a crop to harvest; something the indigenous peoples, with which Reveles shares his ancestry, had been doing in the region for many centuries before the first Spanish missionary had set foot there.
Like the artist in the arena of the formal tradition, so too the lone farmer in the field must find a working harmony between himself and the field. Such a delicate balance is this, that so easily it can be tipped in either direction; the fragile seedlings of the artist’s motive overtaken by the weight of their medium or the once arable soil of the open plane overworked until depletion. Reveles sees that balance as integral to his process; that the force of his imposition on the painted image is always met with an equal force that resists it and it is from this energy and dialogue that comes the evidenced beauty of the artist’s desire to understand his own place in the landscape.