Material Landscape, Social Landscape: Human Presence
July 14 – 28, 2019
Opening: Sunday, July 14, 4-6 PM
Curated by Nina Mdivani
Assistant Curator Helene Remmel
Artists: Dorothy Aretha Alexis, Alex Jamieson, Wendy Krausbeck, Alex La Ferla, Paola Morales, Jaclyn Mottola, Rita Nannini, Sheri Shih Hui, Matthew Sprung, Therese Tripoli
Kunstraum is pleased to present Material Landscape, Social Landscape: Human Presence, a summer show that will showcase the work of ten artist members who explore notions of human presence and its ambiguous, symbiotic or antagonistic, relationship with the surrounding landscape. Ever since coming into this world, humans have consistently acted as architects and manufacturers of their environment. As civilization progressed, we made discoveries and advances previously unimaginable to the human mind, yet, consequently we allowed our habitat to be demolished. We can communicate in seconds around the globe or make nanotools for microsurgery, while simultaneously the world’s species and habitats have been invaded, destroyed, displaced, and made extinct. Fortunately, nature has its own potential for power and affect. We are not immune to it - psychologically or physically. The range of works included in the exhibition address the interrelationships between humans and their environments – natural or manmade.
Paola Morales uses found plastic objects to create sculptural outdoor kinetics and movement. By using everyday objects she highlights the nature of our invasive interaction with the landscape. In her installation, Duality Morales explores dichotomies that touch every aspect of our life: perfect/imperfect, finite/infinite, hollow/solid, dynamic/inert, light/dark. Growing up in Colombia, Morales was deeply influenced by the vibrant colors and artistic history of this dynamic country.
Matthew Sprung works with anecdotes that narrate his personal and external experiences, using oil to channel the immediacy of Abstract Expressionism into figurative paintings in which he explores the history of oppression reflecting in the media representations of the United States. Michelle in College is an attempt to emphasize the strong character and continually determined actions it takes for a young leader of African American descent to reach a position to enact the great positive change.
In her black and white photography, Rita Nannini captures the evanescence of our existence. “When photographing nature, I try to capture the beauty of the foliage left alone to die elegantly, as it surrenders itself to the wind.” Her botanic landscapes take on the form of the visual haiku, a short and precise meditation on the surrounding space reduced to just a few objects.
The light-hearted and deliberately stylized oil portraits by Wendy Krausbeck offer a glimpse on the highly structured industrial landscapes of the airline industry. Krausbeck’s flight attendants are enamored with the nostalgic and peaceful glow of the golden age of air travel in 1960s. They seem to relish the free time of a brief, unionized break - getting ready for the abundant liquor consumption during Friday night flights, willing to adhere to their roles within the overarching social landscape.
Alex La Ferla explores space through large and small-scale abstract studies. His works underline the contradiction between the complexity of the world around us, and our unfailing drive to put order to it. This fundamental tension takes form in opposing forces and processes in his drawings and paintings such as the constant alternation of application and removal of material or using a rigid grid versus gestural marks.
Dorothy Aretha Alexis is an artist and writer of African descent based in New York City. Her paintings fuse personal memories with dream imagery to communicate an emotional state of being through a feminine lens. Reoccurring symbols, such as the spaceship and oja (third eye), draw on themes of spiritual discovery and emotional freedom, while the incorporation of text serves to facilitate the viewer’s awareness of the dynamic between the figures and their environment. These feminine figures are inter-dimensional representations of the artist, born from a metaphysical separation of the Self.
Jaclyn Mottola has always been interested in patterns and how they interact with each other. Patterns and simple geometry are used to build up the painting’s visuals in line with abstract painting. But by constructing and deconstructing the material perception of the surfaces of these basic forms, Mottola draws our attention to look behind the image. On a closer look, exposing wood and hand-drawn lines, her work speaks about its natural material and reveals traces of a careful and intimate making process.
Alex Jamieson uses watercolor in her search for magical beauty and romanticized nature in urban landscapes. Water towers rise into the sky like vessels for sustenance. These towers are reminders that we, as humans, are still part of and dependent upon earth’s cycles. In Brooklyn Towers’ Celestial Coordinates Jamieson is absorbed in sky-gazing, discerning orbits of planets, the sacred geometry of the galaxy, mirrored in the round drum of the towers.
Therese Tripoli’s drawings mix pencil, ink, thread, and printmaking techniques. In her recent work she focuses on mapping and knot-building - knots made by boaters and those woven by birds in nest-making. Human anatomy and the sense of place are the framework of her practice, where the search for personal history is a source of meaning. Her interest is to reconstruct events and emotions lost with the passing of life.
Sheri Shih Hui is a Taiwanese-born and Brooklyn-based artist who crosses the boundaries of multidisciplinary design and digital art. She creates 3D printed garments based on topological details of the landscapes, later unifying the concept with taking and photographing the garments in places that inspired them while serving as her own model. Searching human-like forms and surfaces in landscapes, Sheri examines the correlations in the reinvented patterns on the human body.
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Image: Therese Tripoli, Lateral View of Thorax from Gray’s, woodcut on Japanese mulberry paper, unique print, 27.75 x 14 in.