Woman Drinking at the Blue Lotus
Woman with Bird
With more than 30 decades of work, 20 solo exhibitions and over 45 group exhibitions to his credit, this is the most extensive mid-career survey of Andrew Stevovich's oeuvre to date. This oversized hardcover monograph with 164 pages of full color reproductions is partnered with texts by Anita Shreve (best-selling novelist: The Pilot's Wife, A Wedding in December) Carol Diehl (features writer, Art in America), John Sacret Young (television producer and writer - China Beach, The West Wing, and author of The Weather Tomorrow, a novel) and Valerie Leeds (independent scholar and adjunct curator of American art at the Flint Institute of Arts, Michigan).
Austrian-born figurative/abstract artist Andrew Stevovitch moved to the United States in 1950 with his parents as an infant. He grew up in Washington D.C. where the National Gallery of Art quickly became his second home. "While other kids were going to baseball games, I was staring at the Old Masters," says Stevovich. He continued his studies, obtaining a BFA at the Rhode Island School of Design under Gordon Peers and an MFA at the Massachusetts College of Art.
His meticulous eye for detail and color, his precise draftsmanship, Venetian palette and polished surfaces coupled with Renaissance inspired figurative realism and 20th century Surrealism, afford Stevovich a style that is technically brilliant and aesthetically appealing.
Stevovich transports the viewer to modern everyday locations (beaches, subways, restaurants, racetracks or bars) as a hidden observer where figures with flat features and slanted, slightly devious eyes reside. Whether alone or seemingly alone in a crowd, these individuals are quietly preoccupied with the universal dramas of modern life: isolation, narcissism, boredom, the longing for intimacy and the fear of it. By virtue of his imagination, the narrative intrigues the viewer to contemplate an interpretation (or two, or three).
“You can see Balthus in the slipperiness of Stevovich's figures, and even Alex Katz in the insistent flatness and seamless brushwork. Stevovich's fascination with glass and reflections harks back to Netherlandish painting….Look closely at the hair in a Stevovich and you'll see that it falls in tiny ridges of paint, a textural detail akin to the embossed halos in Renaissance paintings of saints. But the similarities go deeper. Like painters at the rebirth of humanism, Stevovich zeroes in on intense interactions among people. He may be showing three butchers contemplating steaks, but they have the momentous solemnity of the Three Kings come to worship the Christ child. And Stevovich's people purchasing movie tickets maintain the quiet composure of people at prayer. Quiet is key.”
--Christine Temin, Boston Globe
fortune teller, 1986
"Occasionally, an artist's subject matter, technique and execution coincide with the cultural life of a given period. Such an event is occurring with Andrew Stevovich, master of wit, half-stories, pure line, daring color and flawless finishes. To view one of his canvases is to feel as though one has just had an apple martini at the King Cole Bar, or read a Jonathan Saffran Foer novel, or glimpsed on the street an enigmatic brunette in red lipstick and matching leather gloves take the hand of a bumbling European-looking man for whom we might have fond feelings. Though Stevovich has been showing his work for three and a half decades, his representational/abstract canvases have always seemed ahead of his time, out-of-sync, cutting-edge. That edge has arrived."
- from the introduction by Anita Shreve
internet cafe, 2006
Stevovich is an ardent student of art history, ancient and modern, and one
of the most compelling aspects of his work—an element which, along with the exquisite detail of his rendering and the richness of his glazes, gives his images continuing interest when viewed over a long period of time—is the way he has been able to synthesize all of his seemingly disparate art interests into a very spare style that is his alone. So while one is able to reference Pollock when looking at Stevovich’s painting of commuters, there’s also evidence of a close relationship with
the frescos of the early Renaissance. Giotto and Duccio, for instance, built on an artistic tradition of depicting groupings of people, usually on-looking crowds of petitioners or angels, in a way that forms a repetitive pattern of line and shape. This association adds an ironic, vaguely religious tone to Stevovich’s portrayal of commuters, who are hardly likely—at least not at that moment—to be contemplating their spiritual life. The architecture of the subway station, too, with its arch, columns, and the grille behind which ticket-buyers are shown in complete profile, is reminiscent of that in religious paintings, medieval and later. Long straight noses and half-shut (or open) eyes show up in Masaccio, whose gift was that he didn’t depict religious figures solely as archetypes, but presented them as humans with feelings rooted in physical life experience. In that same way there’s something both symbolic and intensely personal in the people and ambiguous interactions Stevovich portrays.
-- Text by Carol Diehl