Exhibition: January 15, 2015-March 1, 2015
Opening Reception: Saturday, January 17, 2015, 6-8pm
A group show, featuring works by Gonzalo Papantonakis, Jessica Lichtenstein, Steve Ellis, JeeYoung Lee, Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann, Kirsten Kay Thoen, Oona Ratcliffe, and L'Atlas.
To select, combine, and concentrate that which is beautiful in nature and admirable in art is as much the business of the landscape painter in his line as in the other departments of art.
English Romantic painter J.M.W. Turner revolutionized landscape painting in the 18th century, interpreting the world around him, turning an unparalleled eye toward color and innovation. Topography, gallery nine 5’s group exhibition, examines the influence of varied perceptions of landscapes three centuries after Turner’s zenith, bringing together in a single show, abstraction, digitization, performance, realism, and collage. Topography seeks to engage audiences with the myriad ways in which visual renderings of the terrain around us diverges and conflates.
Coming Soon to Times Square by Steve Ellis presents a thorough historical investigation of the changing nature of cityscapes. Billboards are layered atop each other in this intricately detailed work, showcasing ephemeral and graphic advertisements as they move along and across time. With painstaking care, Ellis travels through the chronology of Times Square in New York City.
Jessica Lichtenstein has solidified her reputation as a digital mastermind, creating anonymous female forms manipulated into the foliage of fantastical landscapes. Her latest rendition, Blue Belles, utilizes a more traditional shape, representing Lichtenstein’s growing evolution toward new, multi-dimensional forms. Lichtenstein continues her exploration of landscapes with novel graphic techniques, expanding her repertoire of scenery.
Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann has always bridged the gap between traditional Asian techniques with Western Abstract Expressionism to create tactile, vivid works. In her recent collaboration with glass artist Joe Corcoran, Mann explores an organic extension of her ink and acrylic works. Citing natural landscapes as her original source of inspiration, Mann’s works Strata and Inhale occupy spatial and color theory realms of abstraction.
Kirsten Kay Thoen’s works use digital media to shape perceptions of and relationships to nature in contemporary culture. As exemplified by her works, Metronome, Rock Moss Cliff, and Fog Field Prism, Thoen envisions the topography of the earth beyond traditional two-dimensional planes, using both simple and complex forms to explore digital media’s capacity to embody qualities of nature. Her works feature images taken by the artist herself of sites like California’s ancient Redwood Forest, the volcanic terrain of Kauai, and geothermic Iceland.
Displayed in Topography in photographs, JeeYoung Lee combines performance with creation, building worlds in her small studio. Drawing from elements of environment, memory, and dreams, Lee’s small universes contain incredible minutiae that assist in manifesting her imagination. Monsoon Season embodies the catastrophic energy of natural disasters, while Nightscape imbues the aesthetic of rolling hills with sensations of danger.
Motherboard by Gonzalo Papantonakis represents the artist’s latest examination of the digital influence that pervades the natural world. On the bottom right of the 17-piece wood panel, dark drones hover above a city whose shorelines mimic Manhattan’s, though its identity remains mysteriously ambiguous. A circuit board connects various spheres of organic matter: the graphic undersides of a leaf in one, an unnaturally neon-green flower in another. Papantonakis continues his explorations of different materialities, incarnate in the structure of a city.
Oona Ratcliffe’s Shore Moon continues her dynamic, geometric abstractions that illustrate broken topographies and shifting patterns. Alive with color, the work vibrates with a vitality that engulfs the viewer, mimicking the sensation of over-stimulation one experiences in big city centers. Building upon a background in plein-air landscape painting, Ratcliffe considers her works to represent emotional landscapes.
Created by spray painting a manhole cover and then silk-screening the object onto a black canvas, Cosmography No. 101 depicts the physical imprint of a city’s texture. Its artist, L’Atlas, appears throughout the world: his disappearance marked by the work he leaves behind. L’Atlas creates hybridized signs that infiltrate the landscape as universal symbols. Sometimes as big as city centers, his black and white geometric patterns assume the forms of maps, language, and objects.
Each of the artists featured in Topography exemplify individual views of the environment around them. Whether exploring an urban environment, as Ellis, Papantonakis, and L’Atlas do, or analyzing the increasingly digitized nature of art, as in the works of Lichtenstein and Thoen, each artist interprets landscape in an intimate and innovative way, channeling the spirit of old Romantics like J.M.W. Turner. As Turner was in his era, these emerging artists represent a contemporary spirit manifest in the intricacies of their work.