With a vibrant arbitrariness that calls to mind none other than Paul Gauguin, the colors in Cy Gavin’s paintings sing. Their song is one of beauty and pain, the grander arcs of history intertwined with the most intimate personal details. Emerging from his abstracted landscapes, a cast of jet black figures tells their forgotten stories—in this latest series, the stories of brutalized slaves and hidden maroons on the island of Bermuda, where Gavin’s father is from. The mix of masterful abstraction and careful detail gives his paintings an electricity; you know there is an idea trying to burst through and reveal itself to you, but it’s fleeting and always threatens to get lost in the storm. In this way Gavin finds new relevance for history painting, yet also undermines the very idea of it, suggesting that any truth or catharsis it provides could very well be illusory. But then we are left with his enormous, gorgeous canvases, which is more than enough.
Cy Gavin, Rosewood Tucker’s Point Golf Club and Cemetery, 2015