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May 2012



by Betty Ann Brown

A trio of exhibitions — "Saving Paradise," "Hybrid Romance," and "Un-Natural" — span the arc of landscape representation, from traditional plein-air realism, through a compelling mixture of Maria Sibylia Merian-like botanicals and whimsical AbEX splashes, to very Postmodern mixes of materials and techniques. Brilliantly curated by Scott Canty, the three exhibitions call our attention to the fact that romantic nostalgia for the land has been challenged in recent years, largely replaced by conflicted views that vacillate between longing and loss. "Saving Paradise" is a group exhibition of the California Art Club, with focus on the relationship between landscape painting and preservation efforts. "Hybrid Romance" is a selection of Lawrence T. Yun’s remarkable watercolors, exquisitely rendered plants and flowers laid over pale splashes of color. "Un-Natural" features four equally accomplished women who take painting far beyond its traditional territory: Merion Estes uses collage extensively; Constance Mallinson incorporates three-dimensional objects in her spectacular portrayal of the forest floor; Fatemeh Burnes builds elegant wooden platforms on the surfaces of her finely crafted compositions;  and Lisa Adams explores an intriguingly diverse compendium of pictorial styles. Given the rich conceptual fields embedded in their works, none of these women should be considered “just” a landscape painter. Indeed, that is the through line of all three exhibitions: They approach the landscape as site of ideation, rather than neutral terrain for simple mimesis (Municipal Art Gallery, Barnsdall Park, Hollywood).

Betty Ann Brown



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