Simple yet complex, monumental yet intimate, Avery's works confront the viewer directly and defy pictorial conventions of scale to establish a physical relationship with the viewer beyond the confines of the canvas
Keenly aware of the grand landscape tradition, as practiced by Thomas Cole and Albert Bierstadt of the Hudson River School, Avery deliberately chose a non-heroic exploration of the canvas. Accessible and intimate, as if they are views from a kitchen window, Avery’s paintings reject outsized ambition yet leaves us with an enduring sense of place.
He managed to enhance the role of nature, not through grandeur, but through evocations of quiet emotion. Using raw canvas and sparse pigment, Avery often applied color more as stain than painted surface, a technique that can be seen as an influence on color field painting. Avery created a world of outlined and interlocking forms to represent the flattened landscape.
Throughout his artistic career, color remained the dominant force, especially as he became less concerned with subject details. This brought greater focus to the shapes and colors within them. Avery’s art is liminal - not fully abstract and yet not distinctly figurative. As a consequence, over time, his work has been hard to classify into a single category.