Under the direction of Simone DeSousa since 2008, Re:View Contemporary Gallery in the heart of midtown Detroit opened its fall season with a solo exhibition by Timothy van Laar. A native Michigan artist, critic and scholar, Mr. van Laar attended Calvin College and completed his MFA at Wayne State University before holding various positions at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) throughout the past thirty years. He arrived in Detroit in September of 2013 following his appointment as the Chair of Fine Arts at the College for Creative Studies.
The title of Mr. van Laar’s current exhibition, The Loss of Either/Or, nicely sums up his work. He consistently juxtaposes a variety of symbols that play off one other both spatially and conceptually. Set against off-white backgrounds, his paintings employ both formal and informal compositions to display objects, color fields, and in the case of the painting Heron, also a textual reference to the Dutch painter Mondriaan, here spelled with two a’s. Pulling the viewer into his world of fascinating visual vocabulary, each of van Laar’s small and medium sized oil paintings demonstrates the dexterity of his drawing and painting skills.
The artist has stated that the paintings in this exhibition are “rooted in collage and its disruptive procedures. Each painting makes use of multiple languages of paint.”
In The Loss of Either/Or, the larger work presents an informal use of space to compliment contrasting imagery. One is left with an intimate understanding of the artist’s attraction to symbols and his playful use of objects and images. Either or, what we have here is a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Ron Scott is a pseudonym for a writer based in the Detroit area. View more articles by Ron Scott.