Marlos E’van’s work is not only intended to comment on our times — our times are weaved into the very fabric and nature of its being.
Their paintings have been inspired by gun violence, prevalent commercialism, social inequality and the other preeminent anxieties inherent in the contemporary American experience. And, in their very composition, these pieces seem to channel something quintessentially contemporary through a scattershot range and unapologetic conflation of symbols and ideas.
“My work is a statement of the harsh, often self-contradictory ideologies on which America is built,” E’van said in an artist’s statement. “Using found materials, obsessive mark making, text and hyperbole, I hope that my work encourages dialogue among different classes of people.”
This wide-ranging approach and contemporary subject matter is well encapsulated through “Slightly Dangerous!,” an exhibition of E’van’s painting, sculpture and installation work currently on view at Red Arrow Gallery. The show includes pieces inspired by racial tension, fear of nuclear attack and the crisis at the U.S. border with Mexico. And it refracts these particularly American stressors through multiple media, mixed iconography and a seemingly rushed, unpolished technique — a combination that instills the very nature of our modern society into the pieces themselves.
“From athletes to historical figures, from cars to fast food, [E’van uses] symbols to cross-examine stereotypes and institutions that perpetuate inequalities,” according to a release from the gallery. “Consumerism offers us both practical and impermanent symbols in our lives that, in some ways, have become standards of Western civilization. By changing the context of these symbols, they hope to transform them into instruments of meaningful reflection/understanding.”
The Last Suppa is a good example of E’van’s ability to play with symbolism. Toying with one of classical art’s most iconic scenes, they have inserted a cast of unexpected and playful figures, including a woman in a burqa and Christ as Colin Kaepernick, the NFL player turned social activist. The scene is messy and colorful but with an explicit use of cultural symbols that gives the viewer no choice but to reflect on our modern times.
E’van is a multimedia artist based in Nashville who received their bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Watkins College of Art in 2016. E’van also cofounded the McGruder Social Practice Artist Residency (M-SPAR), a program to accelerate artistic participation and collaboration in North Nashville through the McGruder Family Resource Center. Red Arrow and E’van will be giving 10 percent of all proceeds from “Slightly Dangerous!” to the McGruder Center.
Red Arrow Gallery is located at 919 Gallatin Avenue, Suite #4, in East Nashville. The gallery will be hosting a special discussion about the artist and exhibition on October 12, 2019.