His self-curated pop-up exhibition in Charleston this summer demonstrated his ability in the clearest possible terms. His technical mastery is evident in his drawings of Benzoni’s Veiled Rebecca, Michelangelo’s Pieta, and the ancient Greek sculptural grouping, Death of Youth; all vaunted sculptures, the imitation of which in two dimensions is an ambitious undertaking, to say the least. In his drawings, however, Lynberg's steady draughtsman’s hand renders the images, drawn from three separate eras (Neoclassical, Renaissance, and Classical Greek, respectively), with shocking clarity. 

Displayed on a simple white background, his attentiveness to detail and eye for negative space make it easy, when standing in front of his rendering of Pieta, to imagine oneself not in Charleston, but rather in St. Peter’s Basilica. In the statue, a sorrowful Mary holds her son’s lifeless body across her lap and gazes down at what she has lost. It is a powerful image of a mother’s love and of the sacrifice she made, even as Christ made his own. In the drawing, Lynberg somehow manages to bring her tragedy and Christ’s lifelessness into even greater focus, working with infinite patience contained in the fine point of a pen. 

Though Lynberg’s drawings display his unparalleled line and his comprehension of how light and especially shadow shape what we see, his true genius is revealed in his paintings, where he shows us not what we see, but rather, what we don’t see. Perhaps the most telling example can be found in his Self-Portrait, which informs the theme of the rest of his work in the gallery.

In this piece, Lynberg reports that he started by staring into a mirror and painting exactly what he saw. The result was beautiful; realistic. A round face, red lips, centered nose, eyebrows and pupils and cheekbones and forehead and earlobes and all the rest. You can see the remnants of that painting in the center of the finished work. But as he continued examining himself, bold, dark strokes began to appear, obscuring first the air around his head, then his shoulders, his neck, and up toward his chin. Flashes of white seared the edges of his face, and were mixed again with darkness to layer his features in fog. As he watched, and painted, his features were torn away by his own brush, replaced by a veil that encroaches on his very humanity. The finished product is almost simian, with only a small portion of Lynberg’s realistic depiction of his facial features remaining visible. His nose and mouth alone are left, enveloped in a swirling vortex of light and dark that allows for little distinction. It is powerful and textured; the deep rivets of black paint and and the weeping droplets of white are seething with energy and doubt. Its honesty quite moved me in a way that very few self-portraits have.

For while Lynberg’s self-portrait appears to be an exercise in self-obfuscation, rather than self-examination—instead of his features being revealed, they are hidden away—in fact, it is an exercise in self-awareness of the highest degree. It reveals as much about the nature of the modern man as might Ulysses, or perhaps a first listen of The Velvet Underground. In this day and age, humanity is not, for better or for worse, fully realized or revealed in the way that we might have been before two World Wars and a Cold War and unlimited capitalist expansionism. The days of truth as shown by precise reporting on the facts or accurate depiction of the details are gone. His self-portrait reveals that he understands the reality of his own veiled nature and is unafraid to accept it. The work through the rest of the gallery, from a layered, dark, expressionistic portrait of his art teacher, entitled Klein, to his immaculate drawing of Veiled Rebecca, demonstrated that he is committed to his understanding of human nature as obscure and somehow unreachable, yet is equally committed to the task of continuing to examine it. 

It is this understanding, and his unique ability to convey it in color and form. Buy his work, commission his paintings, enjoy his art while you can.

-Aaron Clark