"Super Natural" on view at Matteawan Gallery from July 8–August 21

Super Natural

Julia Whitney Barnes, Gabe Brown, Cecilia Whittaker-Doe, Matt Frieburghaus, Charles Geiger, Eleanor Sabin

Julia Whitney Barnes, Bricks and Stones May Break (Iceland/Rainbow Windows), 2016, ink and oil on mylar, 25 x 34 in.

Julia Whitney Barnes, Bricks and Stones May Break (Iceland/Rainbow Windows), 2016, ink and oil on mylar, 25 x 34 in.

July 8 - August 21, 2017
Opening reception Saturday, July 8, 6-9 pm


Matteawan Gallery is pleased to present Super Natural, a group exhibition of paintings, drawings, and prints by Julia Whitney Barnes, Gabe Brown, Cecilia Whittaker-Doe, Matt Frieburghaus, Charles Geiger, and Eleanor Sabin. The show opens Saturday, July 8 and runs through August 21. There will be a reception for the artists on Saturday, July 8 from 6-9 pm.

Super Natural features 6 artists whose work is deeply influenced by the natural world. Most of them live in urban areas, yet they seek to understand the world around them through a connection with the natural environment. Each artist has a unique approach to interpreting and abstracting nature, although they can also be seen as falling into three discrete groups within the exhibition. Charles Geiger, Gabe Brown, and Eleanor Sabin take an up-close, detailed approach, exploring the dense, repetitive, all over quality of forests and landscape by drawing individual leaves and plants, drops of water, or a forest full of trees. Cecilia Whittaker-Doe and Matt Frieburghaus interpret nature in a more abstract way, with Frieburghaus reducing actual landscapes to their basic forms and colors and Whittaker-Doe creating imaginary landscapes through an accumulation of imagery. Julia Whitney Barnes’ paintings include elements from the human or built environment in surreal juxtapositions with nature.

Charles Geiger is particularly concerned with climate change, and his paintings incorporate botanical imagery and scientific concepts to reinterpret nature in dense surrealist landscapes. In his work, networks of leaves and rhizomes are depicted in a continuous process of breaking and reconnecting. For Geiger, the botanic gestures reflect a life-process where natural systems (biomes) flow, converge and teeter back and forth between entropy and order. He considers his paintings to be a place where rituals of rejuvenation, healing and hope are invoked in a practice he calls “Quasibotanics.”

For Gabe Brown the process of painting is a way to deal with the many possibilities we face in life. She explores what reality beyond our tangible experience might look like, and gives the viewers a glimpse of a parallel universe that questions the natural scheme of life itself. Her diverse imagery searches for meaning in the unknown and encompasses both the seen and unseen, representing different aspects of the world and juxtapositions of opposites: abstract geometric shapes, water droplets spouting from bunches of leaves, and the multiplication of cells and their structures.

Eleanor Sabin is interested in places where the manmade and natural worlds converge. These places embody the history of our environment, and the ways in which our impact continues to be recorded on the landscape around us. Sabin doesn’t attempt to replicate an existing landscape, but rather depicts scenes in which nature has been deliberately arranged and controlled. Sabin writes: “In my drawings I interpret the characteristics of the made and the grown as a way of understanding our impressions and expectations of the natural world.” 

Cecilia Whittaker-Doe’s paintings are imaginary rural landscapes. They are the result of an intuitive process seeking places within the paint that suggest movement and change in the form of sun, moonlight, trees, mountains, or rain. Sometimes her paintings begin with specific imagery applied with silkscreen or watercolor onto the surface, a starting point in a process driven by instinct and medium. Whittaker-Doe’s process becomes one of constant taking away and adding to create the experience of wandering into a place both familiar and unfamiliar.

Matt Frieburghaus’ digital prints are created from images captured in Iceland. He starts with a photograph of a landscape and abstracts it digitally using repetition of pixels in horizontal lines to form minimal and abstract images instantly recognizable as landscapes. Colors are also sampled directly from the original images. His works are an exploration of the vastness and geology of the landscape and the northern light that magnifies the simplicity of sea, ice, land, and sky.

Julia Whitney Barnes’ work is multi-disciplinary, executed in a variety of media from oil paintings, ceramic sculptures, murals, drawings, etchings, and site-specific installations. Her boldly colored paintings are based on a variety of source images that are conjoined into unusual landscapes and spaces. A hybrid of interiors, exteriors, realities and fictions, the resulting works combine her drawings and photographs from actual travels along with imagery from places she desires to visit. Whitney Barnes works in the style of many Hudson River School artists who created composite paintings based on sketches from several days and locations distilled into a single image. 

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