The Fate of Landscape Painting.
Opening: Saturday, October 17th, 7:00-10:00pm.
Show runs: Saturday, October 17th to Nov 10th.
Landscape painting has always been tied to the question of fate. The pastoral landscape was comforting, conquered and subdued, signaling that the fate of humanity was in a position superior to that of nature. By contrast the experience of standing atop sublime vistas or facing nature's most extreme forces eshewed perpectives that threatened the safetly of the human subject, and were often depicted using pictorial motifs associated with transversing unimaginable distances. Of course, these were strictly pre-modern notions of the fated condition of confronting the landscape because it was taken for granted that there was no other condition of natural habitation, save that of struggle. In fact, there was no way around the landscape as a fated relationship until the invention of trains, planes and automobiles. As a consequence of these inventions along with widespread industrialization, the genre of landscape painting lost its perceived relevance as our relationship to the environment became one that was defined by greater and greater degrees of distantiation over the course of the twentieth century.
After being exiled from relevance for more than a few generations, landscape painting has made a rather triumphant comeback by embracing the themes of earth, land and eco-art, but transmuting the central concerns of those genres into pictorial dispotifs. Once again, we are trying to picture the landscape, but not as caretakers or conquers. Instead we are confronted by the landscape in its aggregate and transversal effects. What was assumed to be inert matter has now become increasingly active. What was thought of as a bounded material has become a dynamic form of earthen animism. In short, it seems that since we've displaced enough of modernism's by-products into the atmosphere and the ground below, that planetary life has entered into a reactionary phase, or even a classic reaction-formation, with regard to the inheritance of modenism. We now live in the period of Gaia-in-revolt or even planetrary anti-modenity. And we might only be experiencing the first rumblings of the consequences that have come about by way of ignoring our investments and interventions into the landscape during modernism, both as a reality and a set of pictorial conventions. And so, we too, are waking up from our cultural slumber with regard to the problematic of creative destruction and cognitive dissonance that defined the modern era.
But the artists in The Fate of Landscape Painting bring a renewed look at the landscape without any sense of productive indifference. The work of Travis Ivey plays with the dichotomy of romantic naturalism and constructed areal views by assembling pictures from discarded commercial goods as well as traditional materials. Camila Galfore gives us a picture of the landscape painted in ghosted contours, combining the orthographic feel of eastern landscape painting with the techno-vibrancy of our contaminated life-world. Devon Tusno provides the punctum of picturing the landscape by passing it through saturated chromatic scales cast against so many iconic motifs. Abbey Messmer paints with a method that is part dreamscape, part improvised reconstruction --- where the place of the human subject is put in question, especially with regard to the feeling of a well defined cartesian space. Cam Decassin's paintings are perhaps even more telling in this regard, as they often hint at a post-Hopperesque world, one where what's left of the nuclear family is otherwise occupied indoors, or wondering amongst the constructed naturalism of suburban sprawl. Sarah Hathaway's more expressionistic approach gives us pause to reflect on the last vestiges of a world without us, where affect and effect make up the boundless play of beautiful and conflictual forces. Both Viginia Katz and Jonathan Marquis works explicitly confront the themes of climate change by marshaling the ability of art materials to highlight how environmental conquest is defined by both entropic and accelerationist tendencies. Emily Ritter's installation points to how the problems of accumulation, degradation and debris can be made into a literary corpus, or a exquisite encyclopedia of the ruins of the day based on using rhetorical devices of display.
Together, these artists address The Fate of Landscape Painting in a different manner than their premodern predecessors. They come not to bury the dead presuppositions of modernism but to exhume its exhausted remains, and possibly, to retrieve the potential of a genre cast aside for almost an entire epoch. They come to resuscitate its lost potential, to make its fate something more than the logic of post-industrial capitalism and planned obsolescence. In fact, in their able hands The Fate of Landscape has a brighter future for foregoing demode romanticism and facing up to the demands of what many now call the age of the anthroposcene, which is defined as an era forever marked by human impact on the carbon record. If anything, their work is a harbinger of things to come, and questions the viewer to think deeply again not just about the value of an image, or a genre, but the values of western culture in total. And because of this, The Fate of Landscape Painting still has a bright future today, tomorrow, and for generations to come. It seems, that for this generation, it is even fated to be so.
Artists in the show: Cam DeCaussin, Camila Galofre, Sarah Hathaway, Travis Ivey, Virgina Katz, Jonathan Marquis, Abbey Messmer, Emily Ritter, and Devon Tsuno.