Artist returning to abstract roots with solo exhibition

Greg Deagle has been working up something special for his first solo art exhibit in a decade.

Certainly, it will be special to those fortunate enough to see it, but “Solo Andromeda” is already special to the artist himself.

Though many art lovers are likely familiar with his landscapes, this show is a celebration of the artist returning to his roots in abstract art, and beyond.

“Abstract art is not something that is entirely new to me,” Deagle said.

“I've dabbled in it since my 20s. Actually, in the earlier days of my residency at JAG (Jasper Art Gallery), I painted almost exclusively abstract. It's only been in maybe the last 15 to 18 years that I embraced landscape, but my roots are in the abstract world.”

“Solo Andromeda,” his weekend pop-up exhibit, is a full-circle milestone in terms of the artist bringing his many years of artistic learning (and many thousands of hours of art experimentation in his practice) toward a solid new body of work that stands prominently unique among Jasper’s visual arts community.

Looking at the works is a study in strange geometries with novel shapes and sharp lines that bear a vague familiarity. The research started with him sitting in the very café that will host the three-day exhibit.

His objective was to create a series of works that would reflect the upbeat and contemporary vibe of the cafe itself.

“What intrigued me were the angularities in the geometry that I picked up from just being in the café,” he said.

So, he sat (and drank copious amounts of coffee, by his account) and created some detailed sketches of the café’s interior. He then reworked those drawings in his own studio with specific elements isolated and kept, and others eliminated outright.

This distillation of imagery took some artistic experimentation before he achieved his “eureka” moment, finding the intrigue within the angularities of the geometry.

Finding the key to the show was only half the battle. Painting the works was the other.

Listening to the artist describe the process makes it sound like a three-month marathon at a sprinter’s pace. The effort that went into the series was plenty, but Deagle makes it all look easy on the canvas. The sweat and toil, perhaps, comprise the underpaintings here.

“As a practicing artist, I think that it's extremely valuable to paint a series every once in a while, because it teaches you new values and new principles and working habits and methodologies that you don't get to experience if you just go from painting to painting to painting,” he said.

“When you bring everything to a stop and cross the line into serial work, it teaches you a lot about your level of dedication and workflow.”

The artist vows to stay conscious of the hazards that come from stagnation in one’s practice, even to the point of utilizing unfamiliar mediums, techniques and substrates.

“I feel that artists should not be predictable,” he said, carving out a philosophy of invention and play.

“If you fall into a formulaic rut, it's really, really hard to get out of it.”

Observe Deagle avoiding the formulaic rut with this avant-garde blast into abstract pop minimalism. It’s a refreshing and strident foray back to his roots, one that lays all sorts of possibilities for what may come next for the seasoned artist.

“Solo Andromeda” kicks off with a wine and charcuterie reception at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 20, featuring DJ ChildSizeMedium. The artist will be in attendance. Andromeda Coffee is located upstairs at 607 Patricia St.

Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh