Andrew Stark ‘New Paintings’ at ecce

TESSA BECK | THE SPECTRUM Artist Andrew Stark’s new exhibition is on display at ecce.
Artist Andrew Stark’s new exhibition is on display at ecce.

Artist Andrew Stark challenges viewers with heavy contrasts present in both his artwork and in himself.

Stark’s soft-spoken disposition differs from the heavy boldness of his work in a most dramatic way. His experimental theme of combining abstract expressionism and realism through figural representations is telling of this notion.

With “New Paintings” opening at ecce gallery on Broadway this Thursday, Stark will likely continue to surprise and satisfy observers.

After six exhibitions at ecce, Stark will unveil another layer to his creative exploration, all while staying true to certain recurring threads.

Stark is known mainly for large-scale abstract oil paintings that carry purposeful texture and color. He takes a heavy interest in precision versus gesture.

“(T)he work has always maintained a common thread — even if I’m going off in different directions and trying new things, working with new techniques and ways of expression,” he said. “I still feel there’s many common themes.”

A variety of subject matter remains thematically present, including the sublime, impermanence, the optical experience, science and memory.

Stark also puts a focus on the figure’s relationship to the landscape and the viewer’s relationship to the figure. It is rare to find consistent work that juxtaposes generalized human figures within abstract design.

In his newest collection, Stark pushes his boundaries through materiality. The addition of acrylic paint provides new opportunity for discovery.

“It’s always that moment when you’re actually painting and making discoveries,” Stark said. “That’s what pushes me and keeps me interested. The work itself is kind of a monument to that experience.”

He noted how, in contrast to oil paint, acrylic forces the artist to work quickly as it dries faster.

It also creates the option for more exacting geometric imagery. Upon viewing the work, the mechanical influences are apparent. Stark mentioned his consumption of electronic dance music as he produced the show and noted how the technological contrasts inspired his work.

Stark is currently a lecturer at North Dakota State and spent three years prior at Minnesota State University Moorhead. In terms of studio practice, he advises his students to make an effort to create every day; if not painting, then sketching.

He notes that through the stress of everyday life, getting into the studio can be arduous, but once he begins, the opportunity to create and discover re-excites him.

Being somewhat a veteran, Stark no longer concerns himself with the audience’s direct interpretation of his work.

“It’s not something you can control; it’s something you have to be cognizant of, but everyone is going to bring their own idea and feelings and emotions and their own visual vocabulary to the work,” he said. “You want a certain degree of clarity, but you also want a certain degree of mystery.”

WHEN: 6-8 p.m. Thursday
WHERE: ecce gallery, 216 Broadway N.

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