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Claire Sherman: Here Now

Installation view. Photography by Claire Wiley.

How does an artist engage with the long history of landscape painting in the 21st century? What makes it relevant to our contemporary experience? Claire Sherman grapples with these questions, pushing against the romanticism of the genre and depicting landscapes as they gradually dissolve into abstraction. 

Her invented scenes of forests, caves, rocks, and grasses—composites of found imagery that she has collected over time, or synthesized from her photographs—are ultimately not interested in a truthful representation of place, but instead attempt to address our larger relationship with both the natural world and with contemporary media.

Sherman’s scenes are strangely seductive, beckoning us into the immersive, visceral quality of the large-scale canvases. The ubiquity of her imagery lends them coherency yet, upon approach, they collapse. What was a stem, trunk, or rock from afar turns into painterly exuberance; details decompose into abstracted lines and planes of paint. Sherman excels at extending this tension between the landscape’s illusory depth and a gestural mark-making, drawing attention to the inherent flatness of each painting’s surface. Occupying this in-between space, she focuses on the intimacy and immediacy of her works, wanting them to relate to our current moment, to the here now.

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