Master of Illusion: The Magical Art of Gary Erbe traces the artist’s career from his early trompe l’oeil works executed in a style the artist calls “levitational realism” – for the illusionistic levitation of the objects depicted – to his more recent paintings that combine trompe l’oeil realism with modernist tendencies, creating works that focus on juxtaposed objects and the dynamics of composition, form, and structure.
Inspired by popular culture, Erbe’s subjects range from nostalgic images of childhood pursuits and national pastimes, to American jazz and the golden age of 1950s radio, television, and film, to American history, nationalism, and contemporary social issues. Although self-taught, Erbe’s immaculate skill imbues familiar items with a heightened realism that evokes the otherworldly clarity of Surrealism. Painted from carefully crafted constructions of objects belonging to our shared American experience, Erbe’s work is at once aesthetically complex and profoundly engaging to all.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website