Eric Zener often uses the natural world as a metaphor to portray moments of personal decision and change. His subjects are divers suspended in mid-flight or men and women treading water, yet they appear to transcend time and place. Other paintings investigate representations of the artist’s internal dialogue: images of beds with tussled sheets are seen from extreme angles, conveying a certain degree of unrest. In juxtaposition, his waterscapes provide rich backdrops for his figures, whose contemplative moods are reflected by glimmering surfaces. Pursuing moments of insight and revelation, his subjects are driven to move through the world towards greater understanding and awareness. Valerie Gladstone of ARTnews has written, “Zener’s works explore water’s comforting, challenging, and entertaining possibilities…It is a fascinating world that the viewer enters eagerly and is loathe to leave.”
Zener purposefully reveals little about the individuals, their faces often turned away from us or obscured. With the focus shifted away from their identity, we instead are encouraged to consider our relationship to their experience. Drawn in by the seclusion of each figure, the sense of uncertainty is palpable. Surrounded, but not engulfed by the vastness of the natural world, the subjects remain powerful and we imagine each to be on the verge of a revelation.