If man exists in the image of a Creator, then artists most resemble this spirit, treating the world as raw material that passes through the filter of their experience to produce beautiful or insightful creations. One might look upon the vast beauty and immeasurable power of the Pacific Ocean and consider that it is a complete work, impossible to improve upon; however, certain elements within society disrespect and disregard this creation through pollution, reckless tourism, or inattention. What solutions can an artist offer, in the face of the malignant forces of industry?
Tyler Bewley has created a series of experiential portraits of the Pacific Ocean, directly inspired and influenced by his experience as a surfer and backpacker, and the profound connections he has made in wild places of extreme solitude and natural beauty. As the series title suggests, these works capture not just the kinetic movement of the ocean, but a time of great transition for the ecosystem as a whole—the ocean’s changing fortunes acting as a literal gauge on the effects of climate change, and these paintings providing both a means for Bewley to process anxiety around threats to the environments he holds dear, and an opening for a wider conversation on the subject. Each of the paintings in the Sea Change series is a meditation on experiences and seeks not to recreate landscape, but rather to capture memories associated with the ocean—executed with meticulous attention to aesthetics and an intensive preparatory process that involves numerous drawings or painted studies on the way to a final composition. The results are breathtaking nature tableaus, capturing the turbulent and ever-changing aspects of the ocean and its complicated relationship with inorganic/manmade structures, all rendered in limited but vibrant palettes that utilize harmonic color compliments.
With formalist nods to ukiyo-ye wave paintings of the 17th Century, Bewley’s work goes beyond the limited definition of seascape, venturing into experiential portraiture that suggests battlefields, Surrealist landscapes, and dramatic emotional states. While it is perhaps easy to focus on science and technology as the champions that will save humanity from its increasingly fraught relationship with nature, it is refreshing to remember that artists are the most creative problem-solvers on the planet, and are equipped with a sensitivity to things other people take for granted. Bewley’s acute connection to the sea as a companion and muse translates to his beautiful and dramatic paintings, capturing a mercurial subject with precision, and bringing new insight and attention to the treasure that is the Pacific Ocean.