It's the last weekend to catch David Eddington's "Bilgewater" at Boyd Satellite Gallery. Before it's gone, Emily Wilkerson reviews.
Boyd Satellite Gallery
440 Julia Street
March 2–30, 2014
“Random metaphors for dominance and progress are here at my doorstep,” British-born painter David Eddington remarked in 2009. He was referencing the historic bridges of his current hometown Los Angeles but could have easily been speaking of New Orleans, where he lived from 1999 to 2001. The tensions of industrial progress that Eddington refers to and the continuing effects of its development and failure inform the works in "Bilgewater," currently on view at Boyd Satellite Gallery. Evocative of Neo Rauch’s paintings in their masterful mix of surrealist and social realist techniques, Eddington’s work blurs modern advances with chimerical memories. Layers upon layers of paint morph into realistic and abstracted imagery of machines, architectural structures past and present, water, and Southern occupations.
Demonstrating his use of painting as a tool to create a “matrix in uneven translucencies,” Eddington highlights our complicated relationship with progress. The effect is as if cobbled from a dream. In the aptly named Constantine’s Dream, 2013, a ghostly arch, tent, and skull appear among a cityscape of sorts in which the ground plane floats above water. A large pelican swoops toward the viewer, its wings spanning the painting. Two architectural structures are outlined in an intense red hue and a rich blue sky fades into the building on the right. In this otherwise muted scene and others on view here, Eddington uses pops of bright color to stress the convoluted strata of depicted realities.
A stenciled grid appropriated from a metal computer circuit diagram that appears on a building in Constantine’s Dream also makes its way on to many of the works in the exhibition, reminding us of technology’s tenacious imprint on our surroundings. In a work like Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, 2010, Eddington paints directly on to the found metal diagrams. The ridges of the diagrams are ingrained in two modest boats so that the boats adopt the markings of power and progress. In other works, Eddington physically demonstrates the effects of his subjects under scrutiny by adding water to acrylic paint. The technique creates dripping effects, which in turn become gestures of decay.
Since Eddington’s last solo exhibition in New Orleans in 2000, the nature of the city and his memories of the region have clearly remained a part of his work. In "Bilgewater," visitors find themselves contemplating New Orleans’ past as a leading commercial center on the Mississippi River, while questioning the city’s future in light of current environmental uncertainties.