John Borden Evans
To judge by the slices of life depicted in “Day and Night,” John Borden Evans’s show at Addison/Ripley Fine Art, the artist has found an ideal pandemic-era refuge. His gentle landscapes depict fields, sheltering forests and neighbors who are mostly cows, fireflies and the occasional dog. But Evans didn’t flee recently to this bucolic site near Charlottesville; he has lived and painted there for 40 years.
Although Evans’s pictures are grounded in daily actuality, they’re not altogether realistic. The colors can be fanciful, notably in renderings of bright-blue cows and night scenes whose reds are too hot to have been elicited by moonlight.
The artist also calls attention to his presence by mottling the pigment and scratching into it. Those fireflies are concentric near-circles, reminiscent of Van Gogh and both painted and carved into the darkness. In “Holy Manna,” the incised forms are even less literal: They’re the names of Borden’s children, grandchildren and fellow choir members, all of whom live nearby. The neighborhood isn’t quite so uncrowded as these paintings make it appear.
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