Field of View by Daniel Van Gerpen
Fresno City Hall
Opening Reception: June 7th from 5-8pm
Daniel Van Gerpen has been surrounded by agricultural landscapes his entire life. He grew up in the Midwest surrounded by corn and bean fields. The rows vibrated in his periphery as he endeavored on many a drive through the country. When he moved to California as a young adult he found the fertile fields of the Salinas Valley a source of artistic inspiration. It was not until his migration to the Central Valley, in the throes of a drought, did his interest turn to the relationship between the fields and their water sources.
While exploring this relationship Van Gerpen discovered that the best way to represent this was from a higher perspective. “I am intrigued by the juxtaposition of the linear man-made fields that are intersected and stirred by the organic nature of the river.”
Van Gerpen began studying and exploring the geometry of the agricultural region that he now calls home. His inspiration really began to soar when he was able to take a low altitude flight over the valley. As the plane and the sun began to rise simultaneously, so did his love of this new perspective. Seeing the sun reflect off the winding river and the sun casting long shadows across the fields, Van Gerpen attempted to capture as much inspiration as his camera could take in. He was also mindful to take in the scenery as well. There is something about the quality and atmosphere of morning light that the camera can never fully capture. It is important to be present in the place of inspiration and try and remember how a place felt. “I think that this is why I love painting more than photography. A photo can tell you what a place looks like, but a painting can express how a place feels. I know I am on the right track as I get contacted on social media by people who now live across the country. They remark how my work feels like home.”
Van Gerpen is often asked where each piece comes from. His typical response is that while pieces are often inspired by actual places, they are edited and simplified in an attempt to capture the feeling of a place. While many images are familiar they are often not a place you can actually go to. He pulls inspiration from photographs and merges ideas into sketches before putting brush to canvas. The sketching process allows him to work through many ideas, compositions, and changes in a more efficient matter and allows him to combine many scenes into one. Often color studies are also prepared before beginning a new piece. Even with all this preparation, the painting remains organic until the very end. Things can change in process and many paintings consist of several layers. This process adds to the texture of the final piece and is an integral part of the process.
Much of his inspiration comes from areas surrounding the San Joaquin and Kings Rivers, as well as the canals that transport water to various locations.
While there are no figures in his work the human influence is quite present. The rows and roads bisect the compositions as gridded fields take shape on the canvas and shimmering rivers cut a cool wavy line through the verdant and sometimes arid landscape.
Van Gerpen explores this theme through a mixture of media. He creates, oil paintings, mixed media work, and even a sculpture to convey the different moods of the landscape. He represents the lines, shapes, light, and colors of the valley in a tactile way that reminds the viewer of the place they live in.