“Eight Views of Paradise Interrupted,” an exhibition of paintings by Jennifer Wen Ma, is at Sandra Gering Gallery through July 28. Ma, who splits her time between New York and Beijing, paints with ink on translucent acrylic glass, giving her landscapes a sumptuous, shadowy dimension in which women emanate a golden light. The works here were designed to supplement an opera that Ma debuted at last summer’s Lincoln Center Festival, inspired by Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden. In an interview, she noted that the word paradise is derived from the concept of a walled garden: “a wall, a border, has been with the idea of paradise from the beginning, to keep certain things in, to keep certain things out.”
Why we keep looking for lost jungle cities.
Dry, desolate landscapes tend to preserve any evidence of human passage—they cling to artifacts like precious memories. A Tyrolean glacier hugged the 5,300-year-old iceman to its breast. The desert helped the ancient Egyptians launch their earthly vessels into eternity. More recently, Antarctica has joined in. The frozen continent recently coughed up a 104-year-old biscuit left by an expedition of Ernest Shackleton’s—in pristine, “perfectly nutritious” state.
The jungle, though, does not take naturally to cultural preservation. The obscuring overgrowth never stops; the landscape digests all. Excavating a 5-year-old site, let alone a 500-year-old one, can be like sifting through a well-advanced compost pile in search of something edible. And yet, we try—especially when inspired by a figure as captivating as Colonel Percy Fawcett.
Fawcett was an intrepid British explorer who disappeared in the Brazilian Amazon in 1925, presumably killed by Indians. He’s the subject of a new biopic, The Lost City of Z, an adaptation of David Grann’s 2009 book of the same name. The Amazon’s greatest cover-up, Fawcett believed, was an utterly forgotten civilization named Z. He aimed, in his quasi-invincible, slightly nutty way, to find it. Read More
Amy Bennett’s exhibition “Time Speeds Up” is showing in New York at Ameringer McEnery Yohe through October 8. Bennett, who works in Beacon, New York, paints her landscapes after dioramas she’s painstakingly constructed at a 1/500 scale. She carves valleys and rivers into Styrofoam and freckles the map with wooden houses and wiry trees; over time, she adds farmland, grocery stores, and schools. “The creation and gradual alterations of these models allow Bennett to indulge a novelistic sensibility,” Eleanor Heartney writes in an essay to accompany the exhibition. “The settings she selects are precisely those in which the American ideals of freedom and security clash.”
David Benjamin Sherry’s exhibition “Paradise Fire” is at Moran Bondaroff Gallery, in Los Angeles, through December 12. Sherry photographs the American West using an unwieldy 8×10 field camera. “My interest lays in the changing American landscape, and this new series of pictures reflects my unease,” he wrote in a statement for the exhibition. He told Opening Ceremony, “I was drawn into the desert for its sheer brilliance of fossilized time, the blinding luminosity of its stones and rocks, the infinite desolate space, the wildly varied and brightly colored sun-bleached palettes, the supernatural light, the invisibility of space and surroundings, the supreme silence like no other natural landscape, and the infinite horizon and endless repetition in minimal form.” —D. P. Read More
Billy Childish’s sincere, deeply unselfconscious paintings.
Punk rock icon, poet, novelist, luftmensch, wearer of extraordinary hats and Edwardian mustaches—Billy Childish is a multiplicity of things, a British renaissance man. But first and foremost he is a marvelous painter, as can be seen at the Lehmann Maupin Gallery through October 31.
If you’re coming from his unabashedly confessional writing or his music, the restraint in his work might surprise you. Childish’s paintings generally revolve around the figure isolated in landscape: oystermen on heavy flat riverboats; a woman and children riding a sleigh in the nineteenth-century Yukon; the Swiss writer Robert Walser dead in the snow outside the psychiatric hospital where he was a patient. Most affecting, perhaps, is a series of recent paintings of the artist walking with his young daughter through fields or trees, or standing in a lush garden. Typically positioned in the center of the canvas, father and daughter look straight out at the viewer and yet retain a deep emotional inwardness. We take them in, but the mystery of their individuality remains intact. Read More
About an hour into the boat ride, I went below deck to buy two cups of hot chocolate. It was chilly and I hadn’t dressed warmly enough, but I didn’t want to miss anything.
The fjord was unearthly beautiful. It felt counterproductive in every way to try to capture anything with a camera—scale, color, grandeur—or impose yourself on the landscape, although admittedly, no one else on the deck seemed to feel this way. There was a view from the cabin, too, of course, but it wasn’t quite the same. Read More