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March 2012


Los Angeles Municipal Gallery of Art Presents: UnNatural Curated by Scott Canty

In "UnNatural", Scott Canty has curated an elegant exhibition of art that explores a collection of artists revealing stunning images of raw work that titillates the imagination. Artists Lisa Adams, Fatemeh Burnes, Merion Estes, and Constance Mallison explore the subject of trees in a most unique way.


Between the reality of the image and the stroke of the brush there is a fine line of conceptual interpretation that happens when one views a work of art. What I mean by the word RAW is that some of this artwork reveals the depth of an image beneath the surface of the natural element.


The dressing, finishing & refining of a piece of wood here is like the unnatural or painful exposure process of peeling back the flesh, by removal of the skin or natural integument and revealing the soul and veins of the character of the wood, tree, or forests.


At first glance, the term "UnNatural" evokes an uncomfortable feeling, and yet, once one enters into the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery and turns to the left corridor, one comes to understand just how appropriate the term is to explain the very elements of the forest and trees that come reaching out at you directly from the panels and canvas.


The artist Constance Mallison has captured the essence of the scenes in vivid detail creating 'UnNatural' figures made out of tree branches and leaves. The way she painted the leaves and trees is anything but 'UnNatural', instead, it's the figures she's rendered as nudes with tree branches as the flesh and the texture of the wood and leaves as the body parts, veins and limbs that is the part that looks the most 'UnNatural' of all. The leaves appear to be Sycamore leaves, but there are also Birch, and a variety of trees which are depicted in her paintings. Some of the scenes call to mind the rich season of the fall with the lively colored leaves while other scenes bring the barren winter tree limbs into full focus. Some of the scenes reveal the debris that one finds in a simple pile of leaves when one walks through a park or down a particular wooded environment or tree-lined city street. There are balloons, plastic eggs, scraps of paper windblown into the pile too. Yet, the images are breathtakingly beautiful and painted in precise detail. Even the veins in the leaves, the texture of the bark on the trees and the faces of the figurines stand out as intricately passionate and obviously erotic.


Lisa Adams reveals trees in light of abstract and conceptual realities. Adams renders her tree images with passionate messages like the hearts and initials carved into the wood referring to some romantic tryst that needed to be recorded onto the skin of the trees. Her landscapes also carry the feel of the conflict between the cityscape and the tree life depicted in the backgrounds, sometimes even referencing smoke stacks in the distance weaved into the image very subtly. 


The work of Merion Estes depicts scenes of varying degrees of abstract vibration. Some of the scenes use visual effects that coalesce into rich broad bands of colors which pulse throughout her work. Some of the titles of her works also evoke images that weave "Collateral damage" into the heart of the subject and in one particular piece, it appears as the inside of the womb and the child appears 'UnNatural' and ghost-like.

In the work of Fatemeh Burnes one finds the more romantic and playful renditions of abstract landscapes with the greens of grassy knolls, the dark hues & texture of trees and mountains, and the blues of sky and sea. The meaning of UnNatural in her landscapes escape into a surrealist realm of both soothing color and the conflicting demands of imagination.



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