Trey Egan | Layer it/Divide it

Artist Reception, Saturday, February 17, 2024, 3:00 - 6:00pm


Trey Egan’s 10th solo show takes its title from a phrase that spawned his approach to non-objective painting in the spring of 2011. Scribbled on the wall above the sink in Egan’s graduate school studio were the words, “Layer It/Divide It”. Egan adopted this phrase as his mantra as he surrendered to the physicality of oil paint and developed what he dubs his “natural aesthetic” -- the organic, unencumbered way in which he and oil paint operate together. 


The concept of “Layer It/Divide It” is evident in paintings like Grand Illusion/Refrained Union, 2023. Here Egan completes the background layer or negative space first. It is smooth with subtle hue and value gradients engendering a fuzzy or out-of-focus appearance as colors softly blend. Once dry, thick layers of paint are lavishly applied on top amplifying depth.  


By letting go of representational imagery and leaning into abstraction, Egan delights in the pure properties of paint. Displaying a wide spectrum of hues with surface variations ranging from smooth to lusciously gooey, his pieces are scenic migrations of ambiguous organic shapes. The work is about movement, texture, color, and value. It is as atmospheric as it is edgeless.   


As the show’s title alludes, each “layer” is built up intuitively by a call-and-response interplay between paint and person. Whether deliberately applying paint to the picture surface or looking away as he rapidly lathers a heavily loaded brush onto the canvas, he is in conversation with the medium, responding to what he sees and feels after each mark is made. 


Egan explains, “It’s about not forcing it. It’s like a push and a pull. If you know how to listen, the paint can tell you what happens next. You’re going to give some and you’re going to get some. Nothing is pre-planned. I’m not always sure why this exchange works but there’s a sense of trust with the medium that allows everything to come together at the end.”