Eric Zener’s Paintings Remind Us to Take the Plunge
In concert with the warmer weather, when our thoughts turn to cool dips in the water, Gallery Henoch presents a solo show of recent paintings by Eric Zener—each one centered upon a cool plunge into a pool or the sea. For the artist, taking such a plunge is a metaphor for life, which he describes as “a journey with many twists and turns, often leading us to the unexpected.”
Accordingly, his show is titled “Twists & Turns.” In addition to scenes of women and men submerged underwater, it features paintings of assorted and wildly twisting water slides. The sharp, sudden curves in these slides, and the rapidity with which a person is carried down them, serve as illustrations of life’s journey. In the artist’s words: “With water swirling down the bends and curves of the slippery slide, resistance is futile. In the slide, we must challenge our fears or surrender to the joy of the unknown…. There is no stopping. We must trust what lies ahead.”
Such surrender to the vagaries of life is made especially apparent in Zener’s large-scale composition Letting Go (2015). Against a brilliant blue sky, we see a man being shot out of a white-and-yellow-striped water slide. He is accompanied by a stream of water, which obscures his face and upper body. His posture seems relaxed, indicating that he has given in to the momentum of his ride. He hangs suspended in the air, ready for wherever it will take him.
In Gateway (2014), we do not see a person, but rather evidence of one. A vigorous splash agitates the water of a swimming pool and dominates the center of the composition. Here, we cannot be sure who has made this splash, where they have come from, and where they might be going. But, of course, these questions will not always have answers. As Zener reminds us: “Like life, the water slide entices us to slip effortlessly into a path of letting go.”