the utopian tense of green

The narratives of nineteenth century naturalist Alexander von Humboldt on his travels in the tropics are filled with "the splendours of the vegetation's colouring"; he produced seven volumes on botany alone. Countless tones of green fill his pages: seductive green, as in the green jade stones of the Amazon; colonial green, as in the Queen's Gardens, an island covered with pines and "deep green lining peaks" where von Humboldt finds "contrasts with the white, barren sands"; "extensions of rich green carpets," and above all the famous Esmeralda, a place on the Orinoco river in which everyone dreamed of El Dorado, a South American utopia. Esmeralda was actually a misnomer, with its granite rock crystal misidentified as emerald, a green "mineralogical error" in Humboldt's words. I'm neither nostalgic for the idea of a return to an untouched, essential nature, nor am I interested in blueprints for the future, the totalitarian failures that lined modernism. What matters to me is how utopia can function as a critique of what is present. In this new series of paintings and drawings on linen, bamboo panels and duralar, I imagine green through a looking glass, refracted, as a matter of survival. Organic geometries look back into the promise and fall of modernism and forward into the future, green. Possibility, contingency: the utopian tense. I conceive utopia as an abstraction, as the non-place that is also a place of paradox, one conceived through poetic effort, one that gestures toward a constructive world of becoming. If monochrome black stood for painting's exhaustion and disenchantment, green signals the technology of renewal.

 

 

the utopian tense of green 02

The Utopian Tense of Green #02
36" x 36"
mixed / sustainable wood panel

 

the utopian tense 20

The Utopian Tense of Green # 20
47" x 62"
mixed / linen

 

the utopian tense of green 01

The Utopian Tense of Green #04
47" x 62"
mixed / linen

 

detail

[detail]

 

utopian tense of green

 

The Utopian Tense of Green #6 (green by numbers)
Soho20 Gallery, New York [2010]
Site-specific installation, painting, vinyl tape, letraset numbers, turf

 

utopian tense of green

[detail]

utopian tense of green #26

The Utopian Tense of Green #26 (green by numbers)
20" x 20"
bits of wood, junk mail, and ink on Duralar

utopian tense of green

The Utopian Tense of Green #16 (green by numbers)
16" x 19"
bits of wood, junk mail, silver paper, color samples, and ink on Duralar

 

utopian tense of green

The Utopian Tense of Green #15
47" x 62"
mixed / linen

 

utopian tense of green

[detail]

 

the utopian tense of green 01

The Utopian Tense of Green #01
36" x 36"
mixed / sustainable wood panel

 

utopdet

[detail]

 

 

utopian tense of green

The Utopian Tense of Green #13 (stray bits)
40" x 81"

bits of wood, junk mail, color samples, ink on Duralar

 

utopian tense of green

[detail]

 

utopian tense of green

Ruth Bachofner Gallery, Los Angeles [2011]
Site-specific installation, painting on bamboo, vinyl.

The Utopian Tense of Green

 

utopian tense of green

 

utopian tense of green