Todd Brainard's new paintings offer a refined and sharpened take on a topic which becomes more pertinent every day: the intersection of natural and built environments. Using imagery derived from the Southern California landscape, Brainard operates as a privileged and influential observer, offering an individualistic look at semi-open spaces and the constructs of man that alter them. And though the look is decidedly SoCal, these types of scenes are common enough nearly anywhere. Humans plan and build. Nature quietly accommodates.
But if the subjects of these paintings seem ordinary, the handling is not. In his multifaceted approach, Brainard revels in colliding seemingly disparate conventions of art practice. Photography and realism are asked to hold hands with irrational color and dashes of painterly reduction. Documentation is forced to compromise with the limits and preferences of memory. Traditional conventions of landscape painting shack up with the 21st Century.
The confluence of all these seemingly dissonant elements should be chaotic, but Brainard's work offers a strange sort of pictorial serenity not normally associated with oil derricks or an acrid green sky. In scenes rather more remembered than as if actually viewed, the paintings remind us of our queer ability to ignore, acquiesce to, be stimulated by, or even find beauty in situations so clearly lacking a cogent master plan.
What, then, to make of this apparent contradiction? Perhaps it's only natural.
Januray 10 - February 2009
January 24, 2008 6-9 pm
344 E 3rd St
Long Beach, CA 90802