Visually and conceptually distinct but with a range of common concerns, the work of Rachael Wren and Julie Shapiro sets up an exciting dialog in this two-person exhibition. Both painters explore qualities of the natural world through the language of geometric abstraction. Though neither Wren nor Shapiro works from the landscape in a mimetic sense, the phenomena and experiences they find there are essential in the conception of their images.
The dense, luminous atmosphere of Wren’s paintings is inspired by observed natural phenomena playing between tree branches, light peeking through clouds, the darkening sky before a thunderstorm. She is drawn to moments when air feels thick, when space has a presence as real as that of solid objects. Through an accumulation of small, repeated brush marks, her work explores the tension between structure and space, geometry and randomness, to create a sense of place where form and air mingle with each other.
Although Shapiro does not look to the landscape as a direct reference, in it she finds experiences and relationships that are an intrinsic source for her work. Among these are the alteration of color and light through time, the association of vertical and horizontal intervals, the distance between forms and their relativity to scale, the cycle of cluster to interstice to matrix as the seasons change, and the nuance of variation within the geometry of form or growth.
These two bodies of work are linked together by a belief that it is the interrelationships, rather than the things themselves, that are important. Both Shapiro’s and Wren’s paintings are crafted in layers, and unfold for their viewers in layers as well – offering more meaning and connections the more time is spent with them.