“It’s Complicated,” an exhibition of paintings by Stephen Haas, opens tomorrow afternoon at Vangarde Arts. The date for the opening was set before Haas had begun painting, but he found inspiration in batiking, a process of dying canvases, and he has hit a period of great productivity.
The painting he showed me from his earlier works was of a woman looking directly at the viewer. Her hair is short, cut above heavy eyebrows, then tapering down below her ears. Light reflects brightly upon the left side of her face and upon the flesh of her curled hand that lingers up from off canvas. The shadows fade quickly to a deep and dark blue background. My closest point of reference is Edward Hopper. But the subject is closer, more aware, than most of Hopper’s subjects. We take this painting in, and then Haas shows me upstairs to his new works.
"We all are involved in trying to improve… trying to find that earlier person… I’m in touch with that earlier version of me that I’m pleased with," says Haas.
The batiking process is one of covering something incompletely in order to fill what is exposed with color, and to change the way the light either reflects or passes through the fabric. Haas has used this technique to find himself in the great, dark, canvas of the past.