If you’ve never come across any of Scott Everingham’s colourful, ethereal canvases, make a point of stopping by Galerie Trois Points. Their exhibition of almost two dozen of his works, appropriately entitled Stirring Up Stagnant Time, offers a glimpse into abstracted memories of summer sunsets and swirling fish. Rover had the chance to speak to the young artist about his process and inspirations.
You use these three words in the press release – metaphorical, allegorical and fictional. How do you feel they factor into your work or inspire your work?
Writing inspires my work. I suppose it’s probably a random choice of what I’m reading at the time. A lot of this work is influenced by writers like Jose Saramago and Gabriel García Márquez – writers that kind of use a lot of magic realism. When I’m reading these works at the same time as I’m painting for a show, I feel like … they probably did have a lot of influence on what I was doing. I’m not doing a painting based on a section of a book or a chapter. It’s based on intuition and spontaneity.
How long did it take you to create this batch?
The entire show? I’d say no more than three and a half or four months.
Is that typical for you?
Yes, and most of the big works came near the very end because it feels to me that I’m the sort of painter who does small works to prepare. Small works to take the steps into something this big. Four came in the last month. I completed twelve or thirteen paintings, brought them all to the gallery and a few of them didn’t make it into the show because they didn’t work with the other ones. That happens with any artist out there.
The first thing that I thought when I started looking at your work was that it reminded me of looking at the reflections in water if you’re at a dock on a lake.
That’s quite awesome that you found that immediate descriptor because the book that I was reading was called The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor by Márquez. The entire book is ten days of this guy that lost his shipmates and lost his ship and he’s on a raft and it’s him surviving – true story – in the Gulf of Mexico.
I grew up around water, sailing my whole life so the idea of water comes into my work. It’s a very insecure kind of state. Having these unreal, insecure kind of paintings happening … they may be on the water or on ice, they may be under water, they might be totally void of water and yet they still have something to do with being in that kind of state.
Has that always been a part of your work, or just in this collection in particular?
I feel like it’s been very very focused with this show and yet I’ve seen that influence come into older paintings over the last five or six years. What happens after this, I’m not quite sure.
You’ve exhibited in Europe, the States and Canada. How are your works received based on where you’re exhibiting?
It’s interesting – I find Montreal is home base for me even though I’m a Toronto painter. And maybe that’s just because I have representation here. Maybe that’s because Trois Points has decided to focus on my work and they’re committed to it. I’m comfortable in Montreal and I’m confident in the work in how it reads against other Montreal painters.
Did any of these works give you an especially hard time?
I would say one of the most difficult pieces for me would be the one called “Undertow” (pictured). It’s a piece that has a high relation to my older works – I say “older works” and yet I mean ten or twelve months ago – where lines are cleaner, decisions are made more directly and I feel like that is part of the experience you get out of the work too. It is such an intuitive process for me that when it hits, it hits well. And well it doesn’t, I leave them at home.
These are difficult times for artists – what keeps you going? What keeps you exploring art in the way that you do? Is it just the nagging curiosity of discovery that keeps you up at night?
There is discovery. Already it’s been two weeks for me since I touched my last painting. For some people that’s fine. Some people take two months of a gap between paintings. I haven’t started any new reading yet, so maybe that has something to do with it!
The Belgo building is located at 372 Ste-Catherine St. W., with Trois Points up on the fifth floor, space 520. Visit their website for a preview of Everingham’s art, which is on display until February 12th.