Darren Waterston, Moisture Seekers (1998),
oil on canvas
Slender and graceful figures have returned to Darren Waterston's enigmatic and transcendentalist paintings after a hiatus of nearly ten years, apparently prompted by a trip to Europe and a fresh consideration of the works of the 15th Century Netherlandish painter Hieronymous Bosch.
Until recently, Waterston's compositions alluded to a surrealist view of quasi-natural forms, as nebulous as the contrails of fractal geometry or the faint impressions of marsh plants and butterflies pressed and fossilized in a mysterious fog. His world was spooky and evanescent as only one can be that suggests a generative time before - or a regenerative time after - the advent of self-destructive mankind. To enhance the impression of antiquity in his work on canvas or wood panel, Waterston applies layers of gesso, pigment, mordant and encaustic to give the effect of ancient parchment or diabolocally-imprinted Rorschachs on some stained attic ceiling.
In the tradition of Bosch's sylphs and the mythology of nymphs, fauns, satyrs and other beings of the 1890s Symbolist period (the time of Redon and Böcklin, which seems to attract so many young artists today), Waterston's new figures provide a sense of scale to his contemporary dreamscapes, but little elation in his own, somewhat dark and portentous fin de siècle vision.
© Ted Lindberg