STEVEN NEDERVEEN | INTERVIEW
Foster/White Gallery: You have spoken about the impact a meditation practice has had on your artwork, and your work walks the line between dream and reality so beautifully; do you find yourself returning to favorite places, or are you always discovering new places that inspire you?
Steven Nederveen: The West Coast always feels like home for me. Though I’m living in Toronto, so much of my favorite memories took place sailing in the Gulf Islands as a kid. I moved to Vancouver in my early twenties and loved my time there and I love returning to it. It was in Vancouver that I experienced such a deep connection to nature (and to myself). Those experiences led me to meditation, and eventually to make the art that I do today.
Steven Nederveen, Gathering, mixed media on panel, 36 x 36 inches
F/WG: Could you speak to the power of color in your work and how it changes/inspires the narrative within a piece?
SN: I’m deeply affected by color and try to be quite specific with it. The wave series which has these big colored skies taking up half to 2/3rds of the canvas, is a good example of my dedication to color. Color is a very subjective thing but I rely heavily on the intuition that color takes us places. They are emotional journeys, specific to each of us but somehow universal as well. It was Mark Rothko’s work that really influenced me in this regard. His big color field are so luscious while also inducing the viewer into this transcendental state. I experienced his Seagram paintings at Tate Britain when I was in my twenties and had never been so moved by anything. It was truly a life altering experience. It was also a source of inspiration that led me to investigate meditation.
Steven Nederveen, Resonant, mixed media on panel, 48 x 48 inches
F/WG: Many viewers respond to the ethereal light in your work. In a way, it feels as if the light represents a presence or arriving of something mystical. Can you talk about what it means to you?
Further to the discussion about color as an emotional journey, I use these golden glows as a source of hope, discovery, an opening of the heart and mind. They represent an experience I had in nature decades ago. A moment of pure bliss and belonging; life changing and then forever out of reach. An experience that taunts me, showed me something profound and then disappeared. So these golden glows may be my own way of trying to reach it again. I suppose I re-experience a little bit of it every time I do a painting. It’s always a new interaction, a new reminder. To have the heart and mind opened can be an ethereal experience but it is usually arrived at through a very difficult series of “unburdening” events. (Meditation teaches how to cope with these.) The act of letting go is very hard and painful so I feel that the way I represent this glow is actually with a double sided mystery. Why is there a light in those trees? Is it fire? Is it evil? The menacing quality goes hand in hand with the ethereal. The mystical event in the remoteness of nature with no else around invites the viewer to expand their intuition and make their own discoveries.
Steven Nederveen, Gentleness, mixed media on panel, 30 x 72 inches
F/WG: What are you excited to explore next in your artwork?
SN: I’m opening up my color palette which is new and exciting. Finding new color harmonies, mixing florescent and bright colors with earth tones...In terms of emotional journeys, it’s a whole new world.