I’ve been a huge fan of Kevin Cyr‘s work for some time now, it’s good to see him attain the notoriety he deserves. Cyr’s detailed silkscreen and oil paintings act as a catalog for the urban condition as he records the still-life of decaying vans littered with rust and graffiti. He gives life to these sedentary objects of yore; presented in a flat pastel space, the detailed graphic paintings vibrate with an energy when presented in this vacuous milieu. The press release implies, “The neglected appearance and utilitarian function of these vans carry a bit of nostalgia.” Nostalgia is the wrong word; nostalgia would imply something sentimental and wistful. Nostalgia is dead. There is something graphically vital within his series that supersede a thirst for retro’ or nostalgia.
In Praise of Rust
May 19, 2012 through June 16, 2012
NEW YORK, NY (April 3, 2012) — Jonathan LeVine Gallery is pleased to announce In Praise of Rust, a series of new oil paintings on panel by New York-based artist Kevin Cyr, in what will be his first solo exhibition at the gallery.
In Praise of Rust features paintings of old vehicles seen on the streets of New York—primarily vans and commercial delivery trucks—covered in graffiti, rust, scratches, scuffs, dents and other marks of distinction. Cyr includes a meticulous level of detail in his portrait-like representations with devoted attention to every imperfection and sign of age. Removing the context of the urban landscape, he places a strong focus on his subjects by isolating them in fields of flat, solid color.
The neglected appearance and utilitarian function of these vans carry a bit of nostalgia. Once ubiquitous in large urban cities, they have now become far more rare, replaced by heavily branded box trucks. In the artist’s words, “painting them is my way of documenting a grit that is slowly disappearing from New York. In a culture where people are lured by the appeal of status-enhancing symbols, I find so much character in derelict vans. I have always been interested in painting vehicles that have defined the evolution of the American landscape.”
On the subject of his exhibition title, Cyr says “Rust serves as a good metaphor for this series, a symbol for deterioration and decay. The meaning also changes slightly when used as an adjective, as in: to become ‘rusty’ or impaired through inaction or disuse.”
Common themes in Cyr’s larger body of work have included mobility, sustainability and self-reliance. Referencing consumer culture and the fuel/energy crisis, these paintings offer a subtle commentary on how rapidly the technology of our generation becomes perceived as obsolete, amid an increasingly unstable and uncertain climate of economic and environmental issues.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Kevin Cyr was born in 1976 in Edmundston, New Brunswick, Canada. He grew up in Madawaska, Maine and received a BFA from Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. Cyr is currently based in Brooklyn, New York. His paintings, drawings, sculptures and installations have been exhibited by galleries and museums, internationally. In March 2012, Cyr’s work was the subject of an article in The New York Times. Cyr was recently interviewed by fellow artist Dan Witz for a feature that will appear in the May 2012 issue of Juxtapoz, and the May 2012 issue of NYLON Magazine will include a story on Cyr, as well.