Will Gebhard’s show “So It Goes” is if anything else solid. The result of the last two years ejaculated onto canvas… or pottery… or literally anything he’s allowed to paint on. A vortex of geometry. A vacuum that sucks you in like the dust bunny you are. The show can be defined with one word. Relationships. Relationships through color, shape, line, emotions, and experience. Surgical self-control and judgment call that captain Picard would even be proud of. Navigating the void of the day-to-day. A Visual representation of internal dialog and self-realization.
“Walking through the grass with an iron deficiency” is the black sheep of the show. Not just in tone but in composition. Though it’s clearly in line with his other works, it is the only rendering at that scale with a black background. From the first glance, there is an essence of fluidity. The movement is balanced and soft, allowing your eye to enter the space and calmly meander through the maze. This is a maze. An intentional maze for the viewer to navigate. The painting doesn’t beg the viewer to understand it. There’s no sense of domination, just simple suggestions on where to go next, resolving with four strong yellow lines top left. The resolution is the triumphant aspect of this work. I feel completed and secure. No second thoughts or doubts. Though there are aspects of this that are flat, they work in conjunction with the parts that have depth. The effect can only be described as a ripple. As if a continuous drop of water is being dripped into a still pool. A great start and wonderful use of material.
“I saw a bluebird on a bike path.” The threshold into the rest of the show. A gatekeeper of sorts. A wonderful curation by soapbox (this goes for the entirety of the show as well). The calmest of the show. Another maze for the eye to navigate, this one being more of a challenge.” I saw a bluebird on a bike path” showcases how Gebhard digests his experiences. If there was one takeaway from this piece, it’s that it confirms his understanding of art-making.“The day is coming when a single carrot, freshly observed, will set off a revolution” – Paul Cezanne. “A distant mountain may tower over the landscape, yet if the artist does not experience its enormity, the peak could appear smaller than the garden fence in the foreground of the painting, no matter how accurate its depiction” – Hans Hofmann. The same conclusion time and time again is reached. Is this the most interesting piece in the show? No. It is undoubtedly one of the most important pieces of the show. This work showcases Gebhards intrinsic ability to communicate his attachment to his subject matter. Therefore being just as important if not more important than any other piece in the gallery.
“Separation Anxiety” The finale. This work dwarfs the other paintings in scale threefold. A monster of a painting. The layers, geometry, and color relationships blend together into a living panic attack. The visual and emotional resemblance to actual anxiety is spot on. An elusive beast that camouflages itself within the human psyche only to appear and reign havoc on the container it occupies. Slowly sludging its way through the mind, leaving a trail of static in its wake. Though beautiful, the plane work in this painting emphasizes the many facets of a negative emotional response. The intentional disarray leaves the viewer confused, trapped. It makes you want to run back to the paintings prior. If this was the intention of the artist. The title is clever. From a technical standpoint, the composition is impressive. Choosing when and wear to weave. When to leave a piece translucent or solid. A matrix of levels and avenues, hallways and allyways. The level of control over this painting is unreal. How he managed not to get overwhelmed through this creation is surprising. Each piece comes together seemingly perfectly. Humans struggle with randomness. Gebhard has somehow found a way to overcome that struggle and at a minimum created the illusion that each shape and layer is unique. At first glance, it’s seemingly too busy. Yet again you find yourself in a totally digestible and manageable space. It doesn’t overwhelm you. It doesn’t force you, it simply suggests where to go next.
“So it goes” is a breath of fresh air. Gebhard being a Burlington artist has all the room he’ll need to grow. The void of AB-EX artists in this town is depressing, so really the floor is all his. The worrisome aspect is that void. What are the effects on an artist in a town where there is such a lack of diversity in art? Not diversity in a cultural way(which is an issue too), but a lack of physical artists. The biggest mistake he can make is getting comfortable now. He found a shtick that resonates well with the audience and himself. That kind of success can lead to complacent behavior physically and mentally. Can he grow from this? Can Gebhard expand the pot he’s growing in within himself? These are the crossroads he will face in the not-so-distant future. All in all, the show was wonderful and truly stands out as a success. “So it goes” is on display at Soapbox Gallery in Burlington Vermont, until January 22. Spend time with it and don’t rush through it. Well done Will.
Special Thanks to Patricia Trafton owner and director of Soapbox Gallery for the great gallery and the wonderful photos.