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PRINT Summer 2019

PORTFOLIO: PHILIP VAN AVER

Philip Van Aver, Still Life with a Rose, 2013, gouache and ink on paper, 6 7⁄8 × 8 1⁄8".

OSCAR WILDE famously lamented that the fabulousness of his blue china was difficult “to live up to.” Looking at Philip Van Aver’s exquisite gouache-and-ink paintings—tiny paper masterpieces no bigger than a valentine, yet filled with more love hours than can ever be repaid—I understand this failure of spirit in the presence of beauty. His bucolic scenes of shapely boys and Dionysian he-creatures frolicking, fighting, or posing in realms of Pre-Raphaelite splendor would have likely made Wilde swoon (and John Ruskin a bit squeamish).

I am loath to call Van Aver’s paintings and drawings miniatures. The word brings to mind dollhouse furniture, puppy sweaters, or tiny cheeseburgers on the menu of a twee Brooklyn bar—cutesified versions of human-scale things meant to satisfy the public’s predilections for the mawkish. His sweetly scaled-down tableaux integrate the aesthetics of the late

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