I recently had the pleasure of hanging out with New York contemporary artist Margaret Evangeline in her Brooklyn studio to see some of her latest work. I’ve been a fan of Evangeline’s work for years, so it was a great treat to meet the artist and speak with her about her inspirations and creative processes. It was an amazing afternoon that shed insight into her work.
Evangeline was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and her Southern roots have been a huge influence on her artistic trajectory. Her series “Gunshot” will undoubtedly bring to mind the canvases of Italian artist Lucio Fontana in the way that Evangeline adds depth to her flat art through piercing the “canvas” (in her case sheets of metal). Learning to shoot at a very early age, the artist was drawn to how different types of guns and their bullets interact with sheets of metal to leave a beautiful, yet completely random series of piercings. “Los Lunas”, shown here, takes a shimmering stainless steel metal surface and emphasizes the scattered holes left behind by the buckshot from a shotgun shell.
But this is not just a pierced sheet of stainless steel. And it’s not just about violence or crime, although our immediate reaction to experiencing these paintings draws these parallels. It’s about experimenting with different types of paint (bullets) on her medium and what comes out of that. It’s about producing simple yet elegant art that is authentic to her and in a larger context, purely American.
Building on the “Gunshot” works, Evangeline’s “Camellia” series came about after the artist began to look at the results of her “Gunshot” paintings and thinking some of the holes and their immediate markings on the stainless steel “canvas” reminded her of camellia blossoms. This idea of building beauty from seemingly violent acts reminds me of the work of Imran Qureshi whose installation at the MET’s rooftop terrace in 2013 garnered such controversy when people saw bloodstains rather than the intricate foliage calligraphy that it really was. In this series, this New York contemporary artist is creating paintings that echo the gunshot works without the seemingly violent overtones.
A more recent group of paintings takes inspiration from Evangeline’s new studio space that faces New York harbor. In “Breaking”, we see stylized rows of waves rippling on the canvas. I love the carefree handling of the paint that is perfectly suited to thinking about the ebb and flow of water. Funny enough this is also a classic example of how art can mean different things to different people. Looking at this same painting, someone can see drooping cobwebs or swags. A single piece of art can have vastly different effect on a person or space depending on how it is viewed. Something I often do with galleries and artists that I work with is to take a work “on approval” to be sure the artwork works in the space as intended.
The final painting I chose to share today is from Margaret Evangeline’s “Transcription” series – its closer to what we think as “classic” abstract art. As much as some clients new to fine art always tell me that they prefer realism over abstraction, I will push them to try something a little more abstract to fit into their space. Abstract art like hers has a natural way of working exceptionally well in 99.9% of all interiors … and it can make an “old-fashioned” room look a bit more hip!
New York contemporary artist Margaret Evangeline is the real deal. She is far from the pompous and brash twenty-something artist who thinks the world owes them something just because. She is kind, smart and has a layered depth to her thinking that brilliantly manifests itself at the other end of her creative hand.
Richard Rabel is a New York Interior Designer and Principal at Richard Rabel: Interiors+ Art, a studio offering residential design, decorating and art advising.
image credits: new york contemporary artist: Margaret Evangeline, Brooklyn, New York. The artist is represented by Stux + Haller, New York.