I Am Nature
through April 22
Loft at Liz’s, Los Angeles
Curated by Gary Brewer
Written by Eve Wood
For centuries nature has been a source of imagination and inspiration, and with the advent of new technologies including cloning, space exploration and global warming, we are having to forge new and more complicated relationships to the natural world, and exactly what it means to boldly pronounce “I Am Nature,” as Jackson Pollock once did. The artists in this exhibition boldly pronounce their relationships to nature.
In Monet Clark’s color photographs, the artist casts herself in the performative role of hybridized ingénue, a sexualized woman operating within a catastrophic landscape. In each image, she appears objectified, or “acted upon” by the viewer’s probing gaze, yet the space she occupies suggests environmental devastation, or at the very least, the leavings of our human existence. Similarly, Nick Brown’s highly evocative paintings, made from such disparate materials as shark’s teeth and mirrored paper, function more as interior systems of private reflection. In fact, these images represent the burned out remains of homes in the San Bernardino Mountains, remnants of human interventions into the physical landscape. Whether it be a physical structure like a house, or a stone fireplace, Brown explores the gaps between nature and man’s often destructive relationship with it.
Other works explore the boundaries between nature and modern culture. Paul Paiement’s “Nexus – Palm Desert, California,” 2014, an acrylic on wood panel, merges man-made structures that seemingly rupture the surrounding natural landscape. Paiement’s work represents a marriage of rectilinear structures held within the tension of a natural, and often disarmingly beautiful natural setting. Again, as with Brown’s work, these paintings signify an opportunity for change, however strange and perilous is might appear on the surface. Change is the theme of Gary Brewer’s “Imponderable Agents,” 2018, where shapes and colors mutate and disengage at varying intervals within the painting. Influenced by a variety of concepts from quantum physics to NASA’s modeling of dark matter, Brewer’s paintings appear like writhing molecular structures where, as Brewer states “the plasticity of time and space are mirrored in the plasticity of oil paint and the endless forms it can take.” These are paintings that celebrate the interiority of space and the exteriority of the living world simultaneously and to great effect.
The idea that nature holds within it an endlessly shifting and ultimately inconceivable narrative is at the core of Shiri Mordechay’s exquisite little paintings on paper. Drawing from strangely mythic imagery, these works are simultaneously rich and spare, contemplative and unsettling, alluring and deceptive. Looking at them, you feel as though you’ve been dropped into the middle of a story you will never truly comprehend.
Other works in the show provide truncated narratives as well. Aline Mare’s paintings investigate the cycles of life, death and rebirth by examining the intricacies of elemental structures like crystals, minerals, roots and seedpods. The resulting imagery, as with most of the work in the exhibition, is quietly seductive and rich with suggestive narrative.