Nathan Gibbs’ art is informed by both a deep respect for coastal environments and an abiding determination to protect the natural landscapes from which he draws much inspiration.
Favoring vibrant color and strong tonal contrasts, Gibbs is as adept with lyrical, graceful brushwork as he is with vigorous, expressionistic gesture. Thus, his stylistic range is impressively broad.
Splattering, dripping, and irreverent use of color evoke the gestural intensity and compositional dynamism of abstract expressionism, while Gibbs’ sculptural use of environmental offerings and found objects is reminiscent of Rauschenberg’s mixed-media combines from the late-1950s and early 1960s. And Gibbs’ simplified, silhouetted forms and flat swaths of color that lend a contemplative serenity to many of his landscape paintings display a controlled and contemporary style all his own.
Gibbs’ comfortable traversal of stylistic boundaries parallels the extraordinary manner in which the artist plays with narration in his paintings and mixed-media compositions. His juxtaposition of words and images elicit the fleeting nature of experience and memory, and the artist’s provocative pairings and use of symbolism allow Gibbs to exploit the ambiguity and subjectivity of meaning.
Yet Gibbs is anything but cavalier about the messages he is trying to convey. Deciphering meaning from his work is much like identifying solutions for the environmental issues the artist is spotlighting; both require thoughtful and deliberate contemplation and both are well worth the endeavor. His book, Define Art and Surf is a visual journey rife with formal, expressive, and thematic impact.