Local artist Evonne Reynolds presents ‘Strange Weather’
Dhahran Art Group hosts first exhibition since the start of the pandemic
Over the past weekend, the Dhahran Art Group held the first art exhibition since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, a further sign that the pandemic’s grip over social life is finally starting to loosen.
The solo art exhibit, “Strange Weather,” featured the work of local artist Evonne Reynolds, with a collection of acrylic and mixed media paintings that offer a dialogue on changes to the human experience in response to the pandemic and the almost fictional political, economic, and social climate. Reynolds, who earned her Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art from the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, Ireland, had left her artistic career for nearly 10 years, but picked up her brushes and pallet again when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and the world went into global lockdown.
Reynolds commented that her art studio became her safe haven during these tumultuous times. While the pandemic cut her off from friends, family, and social interactions, it also gave her the space and time to look inward to rediscover her passion for art and gave her a redefined perspective on and what was truly important to her.
“This all started after the COVID-19 pandemic began,” Reynolds said in an interview. “Everyone went through a lot of highs and lows, when we started social distancing and couldn’t travel to see our families. You had to look inwards for entertainment and ways to occupy yourself. For me, having a creative outlet was invaluable, it was a place I could go to play and channel my energy, and I am so grateful to have been able to do that.”
During this time, everything seemed strange, surreal, almost fictional, with the pandemic and with politics and the body of work created is an expression of that.
— Evonne Reynolds
Unlike figurative art, which strives to depict people, objects, and landscapes in realistic form, abstract painting is an attempt to express emotions in more direct ways, through color, movement and gesture. The result of Reynold’s abstract work is often startling and cathartic, but always gorgeous.
Kicking off the exhibit is a series of acrylic on canvas paintings, titled “Orbital.” In this series of acrylic paintings, Reynolds uses color, composition, and incredible techniques to suggest movement, space, freedom, all the qualities of life that suddenly felt precious during lockdown. Midway through the exhibit, we reach “Turbulence,” and “Storm” acrylic and mixed media paintings on canvas, in which Reynolds mixes up her techniques to use a palette knife, and other objects to carve out shapes from a field of charcoal and white, aquamarine and lavender, evoking a storminess in uncertain times.
Yet the exhibit is not all darkness. “Tumbleweed” is bright and fun, filled with frenetic energy, in a lighter palette of pastel colors, and pencil work. The painting that has pride of place, the first painting you see on entering the hall, is a whimsically titled “Gone Fishing,” an abstract mixed media painting with aqua, green, and pinks that suggest a great outdoors and the freedoms associated with adventure. The piece is almost graphic in appearance, and is reminiscent of animated cartoons, childhood and playfulness, which brings the viewer on a journey to their childhood and perhaps simpler times.
“There were good and bad moments in the past year,” Reynolds said. “But with challenges, there might be something new that we can do to harness the difficult times in a positive way. For me, this was art, but for someone else this could be picking up an instrument or becoming a better cook. I think this was a year of self-discovery and exploration for us all. “With things opening up, an art exhibit like ‘Strange Weather’ is a ‘light at the end of the tunnel,’ this is hopefully a sign of better things to come. I feel like with COVID-19 we’ve realized how adjustable we are. We can adjust, we are adaptable, and we are resilient.”
You can check out Reynold’s work on her Instagram account: evonnereynoldsart.