I gravitate toward art with surface depth and dimension, signs of life to me. 

I had never painted with oils nor been compelled to paint anything until I saw Van Gogh’s Starry Night. Was probably after a MoMA class field trip. It was winter and I used my family’s unheated garage as my studio.

The lighting wasn’t great and it was cold, but I was determined.

My STARRY by Evan Silberman, NYC, 1973

My dad offered me his painting set. Oils.

“Use these,” he said.

I painted like I saw in the picture, thickly. Took three nights to paint and seemed like many years to dry.

It’s the first and only oil painting I’ve ever done.

In time I taught myself how to paint. I found materials that worked for me with faster drying times and no threat of oil fumes. Embracing many materials and canvas free’d me to form my own aesthetic manners – my own language – a new art brut.

I relish the primitive in my art, how the raw and the precious meet. 

What is A New Art Brut?

Given art, the worlds of Modern Art, Art Brut, Outsider Art, Naive Art, Native, and Craft, and given the life I’ve lived and the art I’ve done over the last three decades, as categorizing goes… A New Art Brut suits me.

My work embraces the primitive and the precious alike. My work is modern and personal. It has uniquely dimensional surfaces. Shadows by day, catching light by night.

A Product of Choices

Firmly set in a visceral vernacular my form of art brut finds grace from the freedoms in the technologies of our times.

Choices in how to paint, what to paint, why I painted and what new materials to use were vast for me as my art developed independent and unconstrained by institutional parameters.

In time I filled my palette freely. My materials weren’t actual gold and jewels, but craft, office, and home sourced. Joy has been getting to work with “molten gold” and “diamonds” as a jeweler might only dream. Mine being the craft/art version, my gold being acrylic, my gems being Swarovski. In using humbler resources the creation process never suffered for riches.

While my work has gone mostly unseen, it’s existence has been a longstanding boon in my life.

Existing “In the Flesh”

Art has given me balance, it’s been an anchor to my cerebral, a real to my ethereal. Compared to writing, art was something I could complete. Writing draft after draft can seem endless and to little apparent avail, while a piece of art could be done in a day. Finished, in my hand, in the flesh.

Form Feeds Passion

Each piece shares a mix of will and attraction, serendipity and determination, empathy and hope. Take this 1″ wonder pictured here, below.  It’s a tobacco stick.

Un-Painted Tobacco Stick by E.G.Silberman

Out walking the farm of friends I saw thousands of these slender fellows in a barn. Dusty and piled in a corner I didn’t know what they were but I knew I wanted to paint them.

They’re “resting,” my farmer friend said. The farm’s manager had gone so far as to question the stick’s future. Tobacco crops had not grown there in years.

With no purposeful life expectancy for the sticks I let my hunch about wanting to paint them take over and with encouragement from my friends brought six sticks back to my studio in NYC.

Artifact to Art

As of today I’ve painted over 80 tobacco sticks, all from that dusty pile. In 2012 they won New York’s BBC Arts Festival award for most successful use of recycled materials.  Here’s a gallery of a few.

Painted as a Playground for Light

Jasmine, an owner of my work, writes, “To me your work is unprecedented. It is so fresh and vibrant and unique. I have always loved your pieces. I can’t wait to see what you are working on now.”

You can see Jasmine amongst her garden and pets in Jasmine’s Garden, 2008, pictured below. It’s painted on clear acetate often used by cell animators and is painted on both sides for greater depth and dimension. The unknown in using this clear material as a canvas was a tightrope I’m glad I crossed. Outcome: something new.

 Above, Jasmine’s Garden, 2006. 

Below, Bianca, 2016.

I value discovery, have faith in my work’s freshness, and can’t imagine even a single day when Van Gogh’s lushness would wane in its appeal to me. There is a yum factor, sounds have it too, depth and deliciousness on many levels.


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