Karen Gunderson

HONG-AN TRUONG: ARTslant: Heaven Help Them:, July 5, 2009

Arcadia, ClampArt 521-531 W 25th St, Ground Floor, NY NY 10001
June 11, 2009 - August 14, 2009

Another lovely summer group show is just downstairs from Arario Gallery. ClampArt’s iteration is a show entitledArcadia, after the ancient Greek province of the same name that evokes pastoral landscapes, dryads, nymphs, and other spirits of nature. The show consists mostly of photographic works that explore the notion paradise and includes works by James Bidgood, Aziz + Cucher, Olaf Otto Becker, Stan Gaz, Karen Gunderson, Christopher Harris, Mark Jaremko, Lori Nix, Arthur Tress, Stephen Wilkes, Frank Yamrus, and Marc Yankus.

The most compelling work in the show challenges the boundaries between the fabricated world and the natural world, between perception and reality by questioning the limits of form and material. For example, Lori Nix’s photograph, Paradise (2004), constructs a kind of paradise that evokes a kind of cheesy, child-like, 70s era fabrication of the good life in nature – a waterfall surrounded by purple mountains underneath an orange and pink sky. The photograph looks oddly Photoshopped, though the artist has fabricated the scene in her studio.  What could be taken as  digitized and manipulated is quite real – real in the sense of existing of time and space, while what is ‘real’ alludes to something fantastical.

Another example is Karen Gunderson’s large scale black paintings. Gunderson depicts natural landscapes entirely in black oil paint, sculpting the paint into a lush and highly nuanced canvas. In First Steps, Shangri-La (2005), the landscape is barely detectable as paint though Gunderson’s careful hand. While the representational paintings are based on a real landscape, as monochromatics they are almost abstract, and easily mistaken for a drawing or etching if viewed from a distance.

Arcadia is a lovely summer show that brings together works that evoke various kinds of paradise, both real and imagined.