Water and Magic: In the Gallery with Margaret Evangeline
Margaret Evangeline’s four paintings currently on display at Weinberger Fine Art are a bittersweet testament to guilt, beauty, movement, and nature. With heavy, fluid brushstrokes and thick paint splatters, Evangeline tells the story of floods, magic, and the imperfection of the human experience.
The Louisiana-born artist uses the motif of water throughout much of her oeuvre, depicted with running, wavy lines and a tranquil palette of blues and subdued greys. Water is evident in Life Came Breaking in as Usual, a painting of greys and muted violets with rolling white waves that meander across the foreground. Evangeline’s composition is melodic and serene, yet the title of the picture implies an unwelcome intrusion, signaling perhaps a flood or even hurricane. The title also references the commonplace nature of life’s disruptions, as if the strife and tragedies that plague humanity are a dependable and relentless constant. At a remarkable 6 ft. by 9 ft., the work is a demanding presence in the gallery.
Evangeline also incorporates her theme of moving water into the somewhat more abstracted composition of Protagonist 11. Here, white waves pulse against an off-white background, and are met by streaks of white, grey, and blue at the bottom and top left of the painting. The streaks, depicted with abrupt brushstrokes that leave drips of paint protruding from the surface, stand in startling contrast to the signature rolling nature of Evangeline’s water scenes. Protagonist 11 is characterized by subtle contradictions – fluidity and rigidity, gloom and tranquility, the profound ability for water to give life and end it.
Diverging from the motif of water, Moon Camellias recalls Evangeline’s New Orleans roots. Four camellia flowers of various sizes garnish the metallic gold background. Though the reference to Louisiana flora is evident, the flowers seem to emulate mandalas as well, rendering the painting somewhat spiritual. Yet in stark contrast to the themes of nature, spirits, and nostalgia for the Deep South, the unfolding camellias also mimic the form of gunshot punctures in metal. Evangeline thus forms a parallel to her sensational gunshot art in which she shoots bullets into aluminum panels. Perhaps the metallic background of the painting evokes these panels, or perhaps it suggests the bold palette of a classic mandala. Evangeline’s flowers are both a gaping wound and an expression of life, an antinomy that emerges as a motif throughout her oeuvre.
Halo Series 6 further explores the spirituality hinted at in Moon Camellias. Here, Evangeline’s vivid palette of electric violet and fiery orange reflects magic and mysticism rather than the subdued colors of nature, earth, and water. The artist uses iridescent crystalina glitter to adorn bold streaks of paint, giving the work a dynamic and vibrant shimmer. Of her use of glitter, Evangeline explains, “It seemed to go with the idea of physics and what’s inside of black holes, and magnetism, and waves… It’s like magic, it’s highly spiritual.” Halo Series 6, as with the artist’s other Halo paintings, is an ode to the mysteries of space, magic, and physics.
Margaret Evangeline’s body of work is rich with melancholy, spiritualism, and gentle reminders of the contradictions embedded into the way in which humans and nature interact. The four paintings on display at Weinberger Fine Art – Life Came Breaking in as Usual, Protagonist 11, Moon Camellias, and Halo Series 6 – are humbling expressions of the incredible forces of water, magic, auras, and the undiscovered splendors of the universe.