Kirk Lybecker | Reviews

Kirk Lybecker: Photorealist Paintings, Gallery at Salishan, Ted Lundberg, 1996.

Float Away, Float Away, watercolour on paper

In terms of literal realism, Portland painter Kirk Lybecker's photo-like watercolour renderings of spectacular blossoms are guaranteed a second-take response and a quick check of the picture's label. They could be, after all, Cibachromes from the Chelsea Flower Show. On other occasions Lybecker will paint the ordinary and mundane: a jumble of parked shopping carts, reflections in a plate glass store-front, or the chromium and stainless flash of a tractor-trailer's stern. These images are drawn and coaxed out with airbrush, the miniaturized version of spray-painting, which permits the seamless application of tinctures and "dustings" which were far less obtainable by traditional brush and wash watercolour techniques.

By comparing Lybecker to Gallery at Salishan's other watercolour artists, one can begin to appreciate the range and rôle of technique itself, as a desirable component of this transparent medium on white paper. Painter, author and commercial artist Jan Kunz, for instance, is a wizard of pictorial analysis and breakdown as it applies to a resulting appliqué of what appear to be random and fortuitous brushstrokes. Kunz' watercolours are meant to look like watercolours; Lybecker submerges the appearance of technique in favour of pure and convincing illusion. Both approaches are valid with this permanent and ultimately adaptable medium.

© Ted Lindberg