Big Splash Study III
Dimensions: 41 x 41″
Media: mixed media on panel
Eric Zener’s mixed media on panel work, Big Splash Study III, connotes physical presence through absence, where the individual displacing the water is rendered anonymous by his or her splash. Zener captures a sense of strong temporality by painting the moment after the figure has entered the water, using the scene to indicate the fleetingness of human emotion, thought, and experience. The work is simultaneously delicate and powerful, where Zener uses the water’s intricacy to reveal the profundity of a resource beyond complete human control.
Oregon-born artist Eric Zener has been producing work for more than a quarter of a century and uses water to explore vulnerability and the relationship between humans and nature. Water often symbolizes moments of transformation and fertility, whether through its ability to grant life or strip it away; Zener acknowledges this by using it as the environment in many of his portraits, often obscuring his figures individual identity in a way that suggests a collective human experience rather than individual narrative. To Zener, water functions as “a place of psychological discovery and exploration” and encapsulates a sense of duality through the literal space below and above the surface and the metaphorical duality of personal and externally perceived human experiences. Other examples of Zener’s work show intimate—and at times sexually suggestive—bedroom scenes, where the crumpled sheets signify a corporeal presence inherently more permanent than ripples and bubbles. Zener’s pieces encourage viewer interpretation and are both visually and emotionally provocative, recalling a childhood nostalgia that stands in contrast with the implied choices, and thus consequences, associated with adulthood. In the same way that water is in constant flow, Zener juxtaposes this dynamic medium to comment on the ever changing human condition.