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21 Feb

Tyler Vouros

Tyler Vouros, "Barn Owl"
charcoal and water on mounted paper
30" x 13.5" 2015

The first thing you notice about Tyler Vouros' work is the scale. His monumental owls tower overhead, upwards of 6 feet tall. They are truly awe-inspiring, the product of intense focus, patience, and technical prowess that becomes apparent on closer inspection. In studying closely the extreme detail of feathers and talons, the second surprise of experiencing Vouros' works becomes clear: the level of detail and nuance of form. In much the same way that each varied aspect of the owl's anatomy serves a highly specified function within the natural world, so too does Vouros' varied application of charcoal as a medium. Whether charcoal pencil, vine charcoal, powdered charcoal applied with a brush as one would do with paint, or automotive sandpaper used to pull highlights out of the darkness; the variety of application of the dry media (and sometimes its removal) results in a nuance across the entire surface that parallels the multi-functional nature of the animals' various anatomical advantages. Downy under-feathers look soft and inviting, while smooth exterior feathers that enable the owl's silent night flight hint at the animals lethal nature. Talons are cold and ebony-like, a menace belayed by the often loaded symbolic potency of the owl as an icon. And it's on this point that the real impact of the series becomes clear; the owl is a potent symbol that transcends culture and time.

Tyler Vouros, "Athena Owl"
charcoal and water on mounted paper
2015, 30" x 41"

The owl accompanied and came to symbolize Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, appearing perched on her shoulder or emblazoned on her war-worn shield. Egyptian and Hindu cultures believed the owl to guard the afterlife and the underworld. Despite the variety and range of the owl as a symbol, it is most often associated with knowledge, perhaps due to the owl's dignified baring and knowing look. It is perhaps this range of interpretation that makes Vouros' owls so resonant, as a viewer can pull a personal meaning from the noble look and poised stance that the artist has imbued his nocturnal subjects with.

Tyler Vouros' charcoal owls can be seen at Collier West, and will be featured in the upcoming opening reception at CW Gallery a few doors down.

His work can be viewed at:


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