David Estey’s paintings are the work of an artist setting out every day for new parts and places, exploring new rhythms and riffs. He is essentially an improviser; looking at a group of his recent paintings is to enter the visual equivalent of a jazz performance. At the same time, Estey is as disciplined as a calligrapher; for all the freedom in his images, he is a master composer.
Estey is an artist fully engaged in the world. Whether responding to the news of the day—the Iraq War, the shooting of Gabby Giffords—or the landscape of his birthplace in Aroostook County or his current hometown of Belfast, Estey brings a singular visual intelligence to his subjects. Looking through the 65-year retrospective catalogue of his work, published in 2016, is to wonder at his range. There are the early RISD drawings already displaying his spirited hand; more formal paintings created while at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; and the brilliant abstractions of the past 15 or so years. His drawings are masterful.
I’m here to say: David Estey is an artist worthy of everyone’s highest regard.
Little’s books include Edward Hopper’s New England, The Watercolors of John Singer Sargent and many monographs. He and his brother David have co-authored three books, most recently, Paintings of Portland. A poet, Little collaborated with Estey for the 2009 Belfast Poetry Festival.
David Estey’s drawings, paintings and prints share a sense of delight and discovery, a sense of probing the surface of the material world, to reveal a deeper, more sensuous and poetic experience. One senses his pleasure in the tactile pursuit of his materials, whether wrestling a three-dimensional image to the confines of paper and canvas or saturating a background with strong, vibrant color.
McAvoy is Executive Director at the
Center for Maine Contemporary Art &
Former Chief Curator, Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland, Maine