De verbazing van een herkenning die zich niet onmiddellijk laat duiden, maar bij nader inzien bronnen uit de vroege renaissance als uit het expressionisme zichtbaar maakt, van Giotto tot Fra Angelico en Piero della Francesca maar ook van Heckel, Munch, Beckmann als van Gaugain en zelfs Seurat.
Andrew Stevovich, van geboorte Oostenrijker, 1948, maar opgegroeid in Washinton D.C. liep als kind meermaals the national Gallery of Art in en bestudeerde daarna vorm en intensiteit van kleuren om ze in zijn werk te integreren. Het werk als spiegel, zelfs de spiegel uit het ‘funhouse’.
Of met zijn eigen woorden:

‘There are two major influences on my work: the early Italian Renaissance, (from Giotto to Fran Angelico and Piero della Francesca), and Expressionism, (which I define to include not only artists such as Heckel, Munch and Beckmann, but also Gauguin and, though he is outside the category, Seurat). The humanism, abstraction and discipline of the former, the color and psychology of the latter, have all been of fundamental importance to my work.

In The Garden, 2007

I will leave the viewers to exercise their own creativity and thought in regard to the meaning of the work. My own feeling is that paintings are in a way very much like mirrors; mirrors that will reflect better and be far more interesting without the intrusion of the artist’s verbal explanations.’

Donuts, 2009

Stevovich shows us an alternate universe, or perhaps our own three-dimensional universe, but flattened and stretched by funhouse mirrors. He is a contemporary painter of stylized figures existing in a clearly secular space while evoking religious Renaissance scenes. The abstractions of his formal structures interpenetrate the narratives and psychological issues of his figures. The artist stands with one foot in early Italian traditions and his other foot solidly in today’s fast-paced, alienated, superficial society as it portends serious consequences for our accelerating future. (adrienne Garnett, art of the times 2008-2009)


Born in Austria in 1948, Stevovich grew up in Washington, D.C., spending hours studying the intense, pure colors of Old Master paintings and their formal repetitions of line, shape and form. His work pulsates with substrata rhythms and syncopations while featuring bold, flat colors and keen attention to detail on his highly polished surfaces. His hidden geometries recall the Dutch architect and furniture designer Gerrit Thomas Rietveld and the De Stijl movement that was active during the early twentieth century. Stevovich bolsters the “push/pull” architecture of his compositions with subtle “negative space” images; he carefully articulates dense crowd scenes that branch off to appear either inside or outside an area, while human limbs transition into and out of spaces. And he loves to play with scale to further complicate the whole!


It seems obvious that an artist rebelling against rationalization and intellect derives pleasure in painting from his heart, and by the 1980s, Gray’s style had evolved in a Zen-like manner. He’d become an abstract minimalist of sorts. The bright colors of the ‘70s were replaced by subtler, more natural hues as evident in Zen Gardens (1982). There is unity in the work, as shape and line interact, but it lacks his earlier intensity. Gray was becoming more contemplative and less reactive, mellowing with age. (Jenifer A. Vogt Palm Beach artspaper 2009)


Stevovich, Andrew - Telephone call, 1969

De stilte in zijn werk is geen angstige afwezigheid van geluid maar wil een andere taal bij de kijker wakker maken.
Een zekere Michael H. Hanson verwoordde nog een andere stilte in het blog van Stevovitch met dit mooie gedicht:

Allegorical Oracle

We’re all plugged in, synced to the source,
bound by some discourteous force,
distracted from another course
of coffee, tea, and sane discourse.

An unconnected appendage
raking the highest percentage
of those who cannot save a dime
and fear missing the assemblage.

An unseen cybernetic ghost,
a steel leech with us as host,
devouring both our voice and touch,
a whipping post where we can boast.

We’re all together yet alone,
cold and phantasmagorical,
trusting the seer that is our phone,

allegorical oracle.

13 July 2018
Michael H. Hanson ©2018


of uit 2007 de commentaar van James Gardner met als titel ‘The Dispassionate Perfectionist’, een vreemde titel ‘de ongevoelige perfectionist’ die volgens mij in de tekst te weinig gecorrigeerd wordt:

The art of Andrew Stevovich is charming, though the means by which he achieves that charm are hard to fathom. Mr. Stevovich is an extremely precise delineator of reality, yet he is not a realist. Though there is an almost cartoonish abstractness to the features of the figures he portrays, they have a resonance and a seriousness that rise above that genre. And though both of these preoccupations — his enameled precision and his cartoonish abstraction — are usually antagonistic to the ambitions of pure, painterly form, Mr. Stevovich’s works are filled with all kinds of visual felicity that we traditionally associate with abstract painters or artists practicing a more fastidious brand of realism.
The most immediate satisfaction of these works is the brittle, porcelaneous perfection of their surfaces. They seem to have been confected out of spun sugar that has been laid, with cool, otherworldly dispassion, across their infallibly smooth and flattened surfaces. There is no seepage of one chromatic zone into another, of one figure into another, or of one eyelash into another.


The deadpan narrative paintings of Andrew Stevovich, with their frozen moments of social interactions, are located within a well defined art historical spectrum that begins with the expressionless faces and flawless architectonics of the Italian Renaissance master, Piero della Francesca (1412-1492). That signature approach continued through the French Post Impressionists and the formalism of George Seurat or the exotic gaze of the Tahiti women staring out at us in paintings by Paul Gauguin. The path to the current matrix of Stevovich may be navigated through the American artists of the Depression years with references to Grant Wood, John Steuart Curry, Thomas Hart Benton, the brothers Moses and Raphael Soyer, the Social Realists, Reginald Marsh, Isabel Bishop, William Gropper and Jacob Lawrence. There are inevitable detours through the asocial isolation of Edward Hopper, the surreal detachments of George Tooker, and the more engaged strategies of Paul Cadmus, or the formalist enigmas of Will Barnet. (Charles Giuliano 2007)


Laten we dat zgn. ‘emotieloze’ toch even verdiepen en ons niet blindstaren op de vormelijkheid alleen. Net zo min als de portretten uit de vroege rennaissance ‘deadpan’ waren, moet je door de zogezegde verstilling kijken om het andere geluid hoorbaar te maken: het schamele geluid van het proberen, ons allen ten zeerste bekend. Hoe getormenteerd wij ook zouden zijn op onbewaakte ogenblikken of woelige dromen koesteren, veilig in bed of op de zetel, we blijven in al onze interacties met de wereld een eenzaam wezen dat met die schamelheid ook herkend wordt door de medemens met dezelfde schamelheid, hoe fantastisch wij ons ook op de social media mogen voorstellen.

Stevovich, Andrew - Sleeping judge, 1979

In de vroege renaissance-portretten komt voor de eerste keer de persoonlijke mens binnen, iemand die zich nog moet losweken van duivels en heiligen om thuis te komen in zijn eigen ‘renaissance’, zijn wedergeboorte, net zoals in het expressionisme die menselijke innerlijkheid zichtbaarder werd dan de uiterlijke verschijning van de werkelijkheid waarin we ons bewegen.

De kracht van enige relativering is nog zo’n mooie aanwezigheid in het werk van Andrew Stevovich: kleine toetsen humor, of fraaie samenvattingen tot een essentie beperken in een observatie, het zijn supplementaire krachten die de aandachtige kijker zeker zal opmerken, om van de kleurbrille en de compositie nog te zwijgen.