The Picture is a Forest: A group show organized by James English Leary

24 May - 29 June 2019

The Picture is a Forest

 

Gaston Bachelard invokes the forest as a physical corollary to the daydream, since there the intimate touches the immense. The inward self or the limitless world, if measured only against itself, will not yet stir us. It is the juxtaposition of spaces and scales, the quality of the woods fanning out endlessly ahead and yet always close at hand, or of the dream expanding and yet contained, that animates such a poignant experience. Painting too can be understood as producing its effects through dynamic contrasts of space. For example, the nesting of a) the scale of a mark relative to the thing it depicts into b) the scale of the depiction relative to the picture’s frame into c) the scale of the frame relative to the room, your body, and the world. Put more simply, painting is space, but it is odd space, personal space, invented space, impossible, contradictory, wackadoo, and yet deliberate space. Most importantly, it is juxtapositional space — space as metaphor.

 

The five painters in this show — Delphine Hennelly, Kathryn Kerr, Leigh Ruple, Nathalie Shepherd, and Faye Wei Wei — can be met on such terms with works that derive their effect through metaphors of dynamic space. See the ecstatically elastic perspectives of Leigh Ruple’s paintings, which invoke figures that are simultaneously too close and too far, both engulfed and alienated. Or Delphine Hennelly’s works, which enact an allegory of creative becoming out of faux-loomed foundations as they dissipate (or coalesce) up into atmospheres of pop-Rococo scenery. In Kathryn Kerr’s mysterious pictures the legible commingles with the obscure as lucidly depicted ropes, boards, lashings, stones, and figures are teased against insurmountable bogs and sunbursts of pure abstraction. Nathalie Shepherd’s romantic works invoke the quixotic aspirations of a dreamer who structures future longings through cultivations of past occurrence, an embodiment of poignantly ironic space. And Faye Wei Wei, whose grandly perennial works depict life as an intimate pageant, part dream, part stage play, emphatically social yet wholly personal.

 

- James English Leary