Jun 092008
 

The decorative association in these bright, warm paintings is so strong that I think about white dresses bedecked with orange spots (or flowers). Incidentally, these series depict autumn, when nature changes attires — to something more austere — and the artist captures the lyricism of this languorous process. The contrast of the white and the orange is so striking as to almost scream from the canvas; it doesn’t, however — it sings instead. To ensure consonance, the artist provides space for additional colors, such as the green of the leaves and grass, the blue of the river and the brown of the mountains. The latter two produce a background harmony that supports the melody at the front.

autumn_birch_maple_landscape

In almost all of the pieces in this series, the trees are cut by the frame, and the audience sees only the middle section. While somewhat annoying at first, this feature prompts the viewers to plunge into the experience of gazing and enjoying nature — by denying them any roots or crowns to fix their eyes on. The narrow field of vision simulates walking in an unknown environment, stepping without knowing where one’s feet would land; it cultivates uncertainty and even fear. We are put inside the groves in first person, as if able to touch the trunks just by extending a hand. The rhythm of the birches, curved or straight, encourages to imagine oneself as another tree. The aggregate effect is of a powerful bond with nature.

Though one of the close-up birches usually provides a focal point, the compositions lack a clear center. This is a strange quality in a landscape where the subjects fill most of the foreground. It is as if the artist paints close scenes while having the panoramic remote background in mind; she does not want the audience to focus on a particular point in the foreground — as much as we may be tempted to — but rather conceive the painting as a wide landscape. To my mind, this is not an easy exercise (especially considering the notion of the intimate experience described earlier), but a highly rewarding one.

These are two-layered works that uphold compositional and color balance by making juxtapositions. Thus, the birches’ finesse mellows the mountains’ solemnity and the maple hot orange spots offset the cool tones in the back. The visual transition from one layer to another is natural because there is no center that would draw all the attention and interfere. Indeed, at some point it may appear that the configuration of the maple leaves clusters repeats the contours of the hills. Overall, the artist created a series of deep landscapes that succeed in resonating with a range of human emotions.

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