One of John Vehar’s most characteristic images, and consequently one of his best, is “Bison,” which can be seen currently at his solo show at Modern West Fine Art. The strength of the image is in the balance the artist strikes between raw, coarse, brushwork, and what ultimately comes across as sophisticated, developed, and attuned strokes. They are highly revelatory of the tenor, and specific quality of this bison. It is presented as something strong, yes, massive, yes, intimidating, of course; but the purposeful distortion in certain parts of the bison’s front legs, and a certain ambiguity in the haze that covers what would be the eyes of a raging animal, creates a dynamic reticence. What might seem hurried, unfinished aspects of this painting are actually what provide it with a magnetic pull. It’s the result of the artist’s approach to his figurative work: “I think if you don’t give yourself time to think too much you come up with something really good.”
Read our profile of John Vehar in the April 2015 edition of 15 Bytes.
Ehren Clark studied art history at both the University of Utah and the University of Reading in the UK. He is now a professional writer living in Salt Lake City.