Wednesday, September 24, 2014

(Review) Lily Simonson "On Ice" at CB1 Gallery, Los Angeles, California

Natural wonders and idea of the sublime have always fascinated artists. Lily Simonson is no exception, and for her solo show Simonson combines the traditional exploration of nature and sublime with the current concerns over climate change. Last year, Simonson spent over a month in Antarctica, sleeping in a one-person tent and plein air painting in the McMurdo Dry Valleys--one of the coldest, driest environments on the planet. As the embedded artist in a National Science Foundation expedition, she worked in tandem with geologists to investigate changes in this alien landscape. Invoking the tradition of Romantic landscape painting, Simonson’s new series of mammoth canvases transport viewers to this sublime, barely-explored, and thrillingly inhospitable world.

When I look at her work, I am reminded of Caspar David Friedrich's "Sea of Ice" painting of 1823-24. Simonson, like Friedrich, overwhelms the viewer with the vision of geologic history and nature. However, her work looks closely at the structure of the landscape and the ice. Strata of ice leads the viewer to a story that is as old as time, and is still being told. Simonson uses oil and ultraviolet pigment that brings the viewer to the Antarctic with her. Simonson's paintings are abstract, but so are strata and geologic time. So the work, deceives the viewer in thinking of an abstraction when the view is clear. The colors are vibrant and alive with depth. Simonson combines both science and art to address both the past and present. Simonson takes abstraction to another level where landscape, time, and the environment become a vision of beauty and mystery. This is an excellent show.

On view until October 26, 2014.

CB1 Gallery
207 W. 5th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Between the Ice Sheets No, 3 (Garwood Ice Cliff, Antarctica), 2014
Oil and ultraviolet pigment on canvas, 98" x 70"

Installation View

1 comment:

Sarah said...

I like the use of unusual colors in works, and these especially. Simonson does capture the unique light of ice field. The movement from representational to abstract art is something I've been studying and learning about in this last year or so. Your post makes me want to learn more about Simonson.

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