For those of us squashed into uncomfortably tight areas of space in New York City, we either loathe or appreciate the value of land, regardless how small or large our domiciles might actually be, or how grand we wishfully imagine them.
Kim Fosterâ€™s comfortably spacious Chelsea gallery affords twelve contemporary artists ample territory to define and display their own landscapes, one of the oldest themes in art. Micro or macro, small or large parcels. Land, vistas, plateaus; canyons of steel, even relief work that is indistinguishable from any vantage can all be called terrain. Be clear, these are not the conventional landscape paintings of the early Hudson Valley masters.
One of my favorite pieces is the three-dimensional â€œAggregationâ€ by Korea-based Kwang-Young Chun. Each tiny node/triangle is a hand-wrapped, century-old, handmade mulberry paper from medicinal bottles arranged in such fashion as to create a relief map of some mythic landscape. Depending on oneâ€™s vantage, it is either an exhilarating interpretation of an aerial topography of some nearly known continent or a close up of a moisture-deprived surface.
By contrast, the cropped vantages of Antonio Petraccaâ€™s two oil pieces offer tantalizingly detailed glimpses of very real places. The spin is how heâ€™s purposely cropped off large chunks of information (and canvas), letting the viewer fill in the remaining terrain. â€œLake Louise,â€ his oil on wood construction, might be the view from a speeding train in some European country, that moment when you look up from your book and catch a glimpse of the idyllic countryside quickly slipping past you.
The exhilarating voyeuristic paintings by Louis Renzoni depict strangers alone in a landscape caught in a moment of intoxicating bliss or paranoiac anxiety. His large oil canvas "Out of the Loop" (image above) glows with a midsummerâ€™s haze of the blossoming sensuality of young maidens (picnicking nymphs?) unfurling into unsuspecting sexual sirens amidst nature. Theirs is the blissful terra firma of youth and vitality, a terrain that the old and wise cherish with each passing year.
With New York and other sprawling metropolises being squeezed upward, these artists have invented alternative vistas to supplant the pinched urban provinces that have become for many just a distant memory.
For certain, there is much to be mined in these domains. - Dusty Wright
Kim Foster Gallery
529 West 20th Street
New York NY 10012
Open Tuesday through Saturday 11am to 6pm
June 3rd â€“ July 6th, 2006
Mr. Wright is the former editor-in-chief of Creem and Prince's New Power Generation magazines as well as a writer of films, fiction, and music. As a singer/songwriter, he's released 3 solo CDs and one with his folk-rock quartet GIANTfingers. And before all of this he was an agent at William Morris!