Plein Air Abstraction
Riverside, CA 92501
As with any traditional subject of painting, landscape has been treated to all the 20th century's changes and reformulations. Many of the great abstract paintings of the last hundred years were based on landscape subjects. It's usually hard to determine in these cases, old and new, where landscape ends and abstraction begins. But there are those painters who evince in their work the direct observation of the real world. They don't imagine their space-filled abstractions, they find them in nature and reinterpret them onto canvas. What ends up as abstract painting in these cases begins in the response to observed space that in other contexts we would call "plein air."
Plein Air Abstraction brings together seven practitioners of this process. One of them, Susan Sommer, lives in upstate New York, where she derives inspiration from the rolling foothills of the Catskills. (For various reasons "including a fascination with the variety of the local landscape" Sommer has begun spending more time in southern California.) Another, Gina Werfel, lives in Davis, in northern California, after spending many years back east. Both she and Sommer, influenced by the New York school, respond to topography and vegetation with what the abstract expressionists called a "loaded brush."