Eric Dever Adds Red in Water Mill

Painting by Eric Dever
Painting by Eric Dever

Water Mill painter Eric Dever’s s.Ram: Red White and Black Paintings is his fifth solo exhibition at Sara Nightingale Gallery in Water Mill, and it marks a big step forward for the artist’s vision. After five years of painting exclusively in black and white, Dever has added red to his palette.

The decision was no small thing. Dever is absolutely committed to exploring each color inside and out before allowing himself to move on to the next. He painted only in Titanium White before adding Ivory Black, and Dever just recently began using a brush again after years of painting with only three palette knives.

In 2011, he traveled through Languedoc in Southern France and brought Roland Barthes’ essay Wine and Milk to read along the way. Barthes’ words about the color red inspired Dever. “Red, while also the color of blood, is above all a converting substance capable of reversing situations and states, and of extracting from objects their opposites. Hence its old alchemical heredity, its philosophical power to transmute and create ex nihilo.”

Dever’s discipline with paint and tools could be attributed in part to his yoga practice, which also led him to his new color. Yogis believe all material nature is made of three energies, or gunas, and their corresponding colors just happen to be black (tamas), white (satva) and red (rajas). According to Dever, tamas is darkness and matter, satva is light and the ether sphere and rajas is the energy that binds these qualities and all existence.

With the addition of red to his palette of oils, Dever has found an “unlimited succession of outcomes” and a wide array of red tints, shades and tones. He explains that the work is, in essence, “about mixing proportions of light, energy and matter.”

The paintings aren’t bad to look at either.

s.Ram: Red White and Black Paintings is on view through November 21 at Sara Nightingale Gallery, 688 Montauk Highway in Water Mill. For more information call 631-793-2256 or visit

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