Evan Nesbit Pushes Paint in New Directions

Artist Evan Nesbit creates uniquely textured paintings that electrify your eyes while they tempt you to approach ever closer. His unusual technique reinvents the relationship between paint and “canvas” while playing with the idea what the “front” of an artwork means. Evan Nesbit: Marbled and Bewildered is his third solo exhibition at Van Doren Waxter gallery in New York, on view through February 11th 2023.

Full image of "Placer Diggins" painting

Placer Diggins, 2022

From across the room, each painting resembles thousands of tiny pixels of paint spread across cloud-like auras of color in various sections. Up close (and especially from an angle), paint appears to ooze out between the weave of the fabric.

Detail of painting "Placer Diggins"

Placer Diggins, 2022 (detail)

Detail of painting "Placer Diggins" from right

Placer Diggins, 2022 (detail)

Nesbit has perfected a technique of pushing paint with a squeegee through dyed burlap from the back. The result combines the blurred pigments within the fabric with the 3-dimensional tufts of paint that emerge. Even in areas where the front and back colors are the same, texture becomes a visual tool all its own. The final works stitch multiple sections together to create a warped, organic composition.

Detail of painting "Electric Blue Guillotine"

Electric Blue Guillotine, 2022 (detail)

2 Paintings by Evan Nesbit in gallery

Placer Diggins, 2022 \\\ Electric Blue Guillotine, 2022

In this newest work, Nesbit introduces recognizable forms within the patchwork. For example, in the yellow work above titled “Blue Electric Guillotine” (the title references a lyric from the American indie rock band Pavement) the two elements can be imagined as the blade and neck-rest of the execution device. In my view, “Heavy Deeds” (below) resembles the handle of a pallet jack carrying a load of boxes that also form the edge of the painting.

Full image of painting "Heavy Deeds"

Heavy Deeds, 2022

Detail of "Heavy Deeds" painting

Heavy Deeds, 2022 (detail)

These paintings prompt a joyous investigation of image, material, and process from every distance and angle, gradually shifting your attention from physical paint to saturated color to sculptural form to representational “picture,” and back again.

Full image of "Chomp!" painting

Chomp!, 2022

Detail (middle) of "Chomp!" painting

Chomp!, 2022 (detail)

Detail (top) of "Chomp!" painting

Chomp!, 2022 (detail)

Full image of "Placer Diggins" painting

A Nearer View, 2022

Detail looking up at painting "A Nearer View"

A Nearer View, 2022 (detail)

Beyond the pigment and paint, Nesbit plays intelligently with the fabric too. In certain areas, thin strands of colorful thread dangle from the surface – perhaps the start or end of a stitch revealed on the front of the painting rather than hidden on the back.

Full image of painting "A Thousand Different Limits"

A Thousand Different Limits, 2022

Detail of "A Thousand Different Limits" showing thread

A Thousand Different Limits, 2022 (detail)

In works like “Joe’s Load” (below), several of the burlap seams face the viewer, expanding the interplay of front and back.

Full image of "Joe's Load" painting

Joe’s Load, 2022

Nesbit has dropped traditional rules of what should be on the front or back of a painting in service to unique and beautiful objects. It’s just great painting.

Viewer stands in front of 2 Evan Nesbit paintings at Van Doren Waxter

Installation “Evan Nesbit: Marbled and Bewildered”, Van Doren Waxter Gallery, New York

3 Paintings by Evan Nesbit at Van Doren Waxter Gallery

Installation “Evan Nesbit: Marbled and Bewildered”, Van Doren Waxter Gallery, New York

Portrait of Evan Nesbit

Evan Nesbit, courtesy of the artist

Evan Nesbit (b. 1985) lives and works in Nevada City, California. He was educated at Yale University, New Haven, CT (MFA) and The San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, CA (BFA). Marbled and Bewildered is on view at Van Doren Waxter gallery through Februrary 11th.

What: Evan Nesbit: Marbled and Bewildered
Where: Van Doren Waxter, 23 East 7rd Street, New York City
When: January 5 – February 11, 2023

Installation and artwork images are courtesy of Van Doren Waxter and Evan Nesbit. Detail images photographed by David Behringer.

David Behringer visits over 200 galleries every month to uncover and share the most exciting contemporary art in New York today. Subscribe to his exclusive weekly newsletter at and learn about his private gallery tours. And be sure to check out his YouTube.