Congratulations to Wilhelm Neusser, whose new body of work will be featured in Field Trip, a solo exhibition at Galerie Knecht und Burster in Karlsruhe, Germany from September 15 to October 13, 2018. Watch Neusser give a tour of his studio and explain the new paintings, which depict his first American landscapes, in the video at right. Fortunately as he was preparing for the Germany show, Neusser made a few extra cranberry bog paintings for our P-town Pop-up, 13FOREST at 444 - see below.
With Nicole Duennebier's second solo exhibition at 13FOREST Gallery, View into the Fertile Country, soon coming to a close, I wanted to take the opportunity to share some thoughts about her work and how it can be understood through View into the Fertile Country and another exhibition currently featuring Duennebier, Pushing Painting at the David Winton Bell Gallery at Brown University.
Gallery Director, 13FOREST Gallery
Nicole Duennebier’s first solo show at 13FOREST Gallery, The Great Season, celebrated a particularly prolific time in the young artist’s career. The show was populated with paintings that at first glance appear to be seventeenth century Dutch still lifes. However closer inspection rewards the viewer with simultaneous pleasure and revulsion at discovering Duennebier’s imaginative subject matter: biologic forms that glimmer and ooze in an alluringly repulsive manner.
Duennebier has become known for her signature style of painting that renders surreal and at times grotesque subjects with the attention and rigor of an Old Master. 13FOREST Gallery owner Jim Kiely previously interviewed Duennebier to gain insight into the process behind this highly recognizable work.
With her latest solo exhibition View into the Fertile Country, Duennebier continues to mine historical influences, but expands the scope of her painted subject matter to introduce new vistas that define the broader universe her work occupies. Duennebier has also expanded the type of work that she is presenting as her finished product, making her delicate and highly detailed drawings a significant component of the show. With this new imagery and medium, Duennebier challenges herself artistically and invites her viewers deeper into her imagined worlds.
Duennebier’s work as a painter is characterized by a voracious approach to historical influences. Visually her paintings evoke a keen understanding of Dutch still lifes and the Old Masters, and conversations with the artist reveal a deep breadth of knowledge that informs her work in ways both subtle and overt. A primary influence on the body of work on display in View into the Fertile Country was an article about the effects of the disease scurvy on sailors traveling to previously undiscovered lands. The article, “Scurvy and the Terra Incognita” by Jonathan Lamb, discusses the phenomenon of the “scorbutic eye,” a condition brought on by scurvy that heightens the viewer’s sense of vision to the point of surreality. To sailors affected by the scorbutic eye, the world around them took on a highly decorative quality such that the visual world became completely overwhelming, sometimes causing the sailors to lose consciousness.
In her artist talk for View into the Fertile Country, Duennebier revealed that she sees herself as possessing a scorbutic eye when it comes to her painting; she seeks out the decorative aspects of her subject matter and heightens those details until they become almost too much to take in. Duennebier further characterized her work as having the engorged quality of someone being fed too much. Duennebier’s awareness of engaging the senses in this manner is apparent in the highly sensual nature of her work, which brims with details, textures, and environments that give the viewer plenty to feast upon.
With this new work, Duennebier pushed herself to explore landscapes as a new subject matter for her paintings. The decision to pursue landscapes came from her desire to challenge herself to work with a lighter color palette in a major departure from the darkness that her previous still lifes were usually situated within. Paintings like Landscape with Pink Folds and Folded Landscape at Dusk evoke Rococo-esque grottoes with their pastel tones and intricate scenery, while Still Life with Nasturtium and Brush Fire uses landscape sparingly in the background, grounding the painting in a more familiar reality while also contrasting the fantastic scenery in the foreground.
Duennebier also addresses landscape with her immaculately detailed drawings, work that she is displaying in a gallery context for the first time at 13FOREST. In her artist talk, she discussed her decision to pursue drawing more seriously for this exhibition. While she had always used drawing as a preparatory process for her paintings, she admitted that she had never before found them to be significant enough to present as a finished product.
Drawing offered a completely different kind of experience than painting for Duennebier. She described the process of drawing as feeling very frail and vulnerable, like walking a tightrope. Although her method of painting allows her to go back and repaint sections that she has trouble with, with drawing every mark is final and therefore must be careful and deliberate. Duennebier’s highly studied approach to her artistic process is evident in her drawings as much as the paintings. In her talk, she explained that “I felt as though with the drawings I had to do a lot of looking at other drawings and learn those marks…if I had an angle that I was trying to understand I feel like I had to go through a lot of different source material to kind of figure out how other artists worked it out.”
With the titles of the drawings, Duennebier’s multi-layered historical references become even more obvious. Most of the drawings are referred to as cartouches, which are decorative elements with the appearance of a scroll or an oval that were incorporated into tablets or drawings; they also bore inscriptions or highlighted important names in Egyptian hieroglyphs. The concept of a cartouche appealed to Duennebier as it conveyed the idea of an element that was meant to be filled in and become part of a decoration. She explained that a cartouche could also mean a cartridge that is filled with ink; to her mind it represents a space that is filled with possibility.
For Duennebier calling her drawings cartouches invoked the intriguing idea of using an absence as decoration, and yet she also saw it as a way of downplaying the drawings; she explained that the titles were “in a silly sort of way like trying to say this is a quaint little decoration.” With the decision to name her drawings cartouches, Duennebier reveals her highly intellectualized creative process, showcasing the multiple approaches she takes to understanding her work.
Duennebier’s extreme commitment to her influences and subject matter is further evident in her use of models when creating her paintings. During her artist talk Duennebier explained that since she often paints scenes that exist solely in her imagination, she finds it useful to create clay models to refer to while she is working. She originally began making the models as a way to counteract a certain flatness she was observing in her work. Creating a three dimensional model allowed her to actually physically navigate the scenes she was imagining. Duennebier is a true technician in her approach to painting. She used oil on the models to emulate the sticky, shiny, and repellent textures that she sought to create, using the model as a basis to render the most accurate representation of the shadows, points of reflection, and unique textures that she was trying to convey.
When asked about the seventeenth century and Old Master influences that are so present in her work, Duennebier admitted that “consistently looking back as far as I do, I don’t know if I have a good excuse for it other than I think I learn the most from Old Master paintings…there will be something there that I don’t know how to do and I’m always learning from that.” Her self-described “obsessive love” with that historic work allows her to experiment with the ideas of great artists and reinterpret them through her own lens. While Duennebier might not believe she has a good excuse for bringing clear historical references into her work, curator Ian Alden Russell found that quality to be a particular strength of her practice.
Concurrent with View into the Fertile Country, Duennebier is featured alongside painters Elise Ansel and Duane Slick in the David Winton Bell Gallery at Brown University in an exhibition titled Pushing Painting. The exhibition, curated by Russell, serves to bring Duennebier’s work into context with other painters who filter art historical touchstones through a contemporary vantage point.
In her review of the exhibition, Boston Globe art critic Cate McQuaid offers a deft summary of the work of Ansel and Slick. Ansel takes on titans of art history such as Caravaggio’s Conversion on the Way to Damascus, using the same color palette but rendering the painting’s familiar forms with energetic swaths of paint. Ansel’s abstracted brushstrokes, according to McQuaid, “don’t flatten masterworks into formal notions, but caress and celebrate their forms, as a lover might, so they blossom anew.” Duane Slick, professor of painting at the Rhode Island School of Design and member of the Meskwaki and Ho-Chunk Nations, “seeds the modernist grid with Native American spirits.” His approach to the stark geometry of Modern painting imbues it with fresh meaning as he layers in Native American imagery, bringing western art into conversation with cultures rarely recognized by the art historical canon.
Duennebier’s work in the show is an excellent example of her Dutch still-life inspired work, including the six paneled series Hydnellum Myriorama, pieces of which belong to different collectors and have not been exhibited together since their debut in The Great Season in 2014. McQuaid writes that “Like her Dutch predecessors, Duennebier’s glistening realism captures bounty and menace, allure and mortification. Unlike them, she offers no moral instruction – just astonishment at paint’s possibilities.”
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Russell about the motivation behind his latest exhibition and his interest in Duennebier's work. With Pushing Painting, Russell began with the idea of organizing an exhibition of regional painters. He explained that New England has a remarkably long history of painting and several notable painting schools such as the Hudson River School, making the region akin to parts of Europe or England in terms of the breadth of historical influence to draw upon. It was his observation that with New England’s rich history of painting techniques, it is incredible that artists in this area are still finding ways to innovate with the medium and keep it feeling contemporary and relevant. He particularly honed in on painters who found ways to pay homage to the history of image making while still working from a fresh or different perspective that made their paintings feel as contemporary as other avant-garde types of images.
With Duennebier’s work, Russell was initially drawn to the rigor and commitment he saw in her technique. Her dedication to fidelity and acutely representing textures and light is remarkable, and for Russell, was a sign that Duennebier was someone to pay attention to. Her mastery of acrylic paint was also particularly noteworthy. While her paintings fool many people into believing they are painted with oil, a medium often associated with more detail and depth, Duennebier is actually working exclusively with acrylic paint. Her expert application of acrylic paint and varnish allows her to convey a broad range of textures, from shimmering pearls and airy gauze to oozing and disintegrating molds, with the weight and seriousness of an Old Master working in oil. According to Russell, viewers mistaking these paintings as seventeenth century oils gives the paintings an aura of history while also leading the viewer to think differently about contemporary mediums.
For Russell, the three artists in Pushing Painting are united by the way they open up historical images for continued discussion and reinterpretation. Within the canon of art history the meaning of art movements and interpretation of an artist’s oeuvre can feel established or determined in a way that can be restrictive. However through the work of Ansel, Duennebier, and Slick, Russell demonstrates his view that “the history of the painted image is something that is constantly becoming and is renegotiated.” These artists are “intervening to try to collapse and simultaneously open and expand” the distance between contemporary viewers and historical influences, making room for history to live again in our contemporary consciousness. Regarding Duennebier’s work specifically, Russell stated that her work reminds him that when encountering any creative work, no matter the time period in which it originated, “there is a contemporary opportunity and a contemporary moment to be open to what that [artwork] might mean, what that image is saying…how might that [artwork] catalyze conversations with others around you.” While Duennebier seems to think primarily in terms of what she has to learn from Old Masters, Russell points out that there is much to learn about art history from Duennebier: “[she] helps me think differently about seventeenth century Dutch still life painting.”
With Pushing Painting and View into the Fertile Country on view simultaneously, followers of Duennebier’s work are afforded a unique opportunity to consider her already impressive career. Her dedication to history provides ample inspiration for her imaginative paintings, while giving viewers the opportunity to engage with moments from art history that might feel outdated to contemporary audiences. Duennebier’s masterful rendering of texture provides an opportunity to experience the visceral pleasure of looking, as viewers take in the delightful and repulsive details that give her work its signature vibrancy and liveliness.
Please join us on Saturday, July 7 from 4-6 pm for cocktails to celebrate the closing of Nicole Duennebier's solo exhibition View into the Fertile Country.
More common in the Golden Age of Exploration, the "scorbutic eye" refers to a heightened sense of vision caused by scurvy, which made the world appear highly and overwhelmingly decorative. Explorers travelling to new lands who were afflicted with the scorbutic eye would sometimes faint from the visual intensity of their surroundings. Inspired by this bizarre phenomenon, Duennebier paints and draws imagined landscapes that invite viewers in to explore features that are simultaneously beautiful, intricate, and grotesque.
Come experience the scorbutic eye for yourself! We'll have a signature cocktail and some snacks to celebrate. Read more about View into the Fertile Country here.
Artist Nicole Duennebier is featured in online art magazine Wonderland to mark the opening of her solo exhibition View into the Fertile Country at 13FOREST Gallery on May 19. Writer Greg Cook visited Duennebier's studio earlier this month to get a sneak peek of the work for her upcoming show and to learn more about how her artistic process and influences have shifted in this latest body of work.
Cook writes that Duennebier is "one of the most sumptuous painters around." Her latest work draws on 16th century Dutch still lifes and French rococo gardens, but also incorporates grotesque elements like mold and oozing meat. Duennebier explains that “Pushing people to find something attractive that they wouldn’t normally is always something I’m working towards. I think artists are always looking for something people haven’t found beautiful yet.” Read the entire profile of Nicole Duennebier here.
We were honored to be featured in an upcoming episode of Museum Open House, a wonderful program on Newton's public access station, NewTV, that highlights museums and galleries throughout Massachusetts. Thank you to host Jay Sugarman for the engaging conversation about our current exhibition 13WOMEN, on view until May 11. You can catch our interview on Thursday, May 3 at 9:30 pm on NewTV, or watch it online here.
Left to right: Museum Open House host Jay Sugarman, 13FOREST co-owners Marc Gurton and Jim Kiely, Gallery Director Caitee Hoglund
Last spring our first-ever From Flowers to FOREST event was a huge hit! It was so enjoyable for us to see our artists inspire other creators to make some truly lovely floral arrangements. We are delighted to be partnering with Derby Farm Flowers & Gardens again this year to bring you another fun and festive floral event during Capitol Square's annual Spring in the Square celebration on Saturday, April 7.
From Flowers to FOREST will begin with a workshop at Derby Farm from 12-2 pm. Derby Farm will give you some pointers and blooms, and you'll design a floral arrangement prompted by a work of art from our current exhibition 13WOMEN. If you're looking for ideas, see some of last year's creations below.
When you’re done, bring your flowers across the street to display next to their inspiration at 13FOREST Gallery and enjoy refreshments at our exhibition reception from 2-4 pm.
The workshop is for any ability level, and there are limited spaces available but we will do our best to accommodate drop-ins. The price of the workshop is $40 and includes instruction, vase, and blooms. To register for the workshop please call Derby Farm at 781-643-0842.
Please feel welcome to join us at the reception even if you did not participate in the workshop. Come help us celebrate spring!
Clockwise from top left: Catherine Graffam, Self-Portrait with Two Eggs and a Handkerchief, oil on panel; Nancy Popper, Maid of Orléans, etching, drypoint, and chine-collé; Asia Kepka, Bridget & I: Conversation, c-print; Mary O'Malley, Pollinator Mandala #1, gouache and ink on paper
As part of our current exhibition 13WOMEN, on view from March 17 to May 11, 2018, we asked the exhibiting artists to write statements about the work they contributed to the show. Each artist took a slightly different approach to the statement, discussing her inspiration, process, or artistic goals. We were so impressed with the thoughtfulness and insight of these statements that we wanted to share their words here.
I created this piece for a show whose theme was “The Individual in the Community.” The initial sketch of a woman was torn from my sketchbook. I added elements of a peopled landscape. The main character in this piece looks fragmented and broken to me. The plant imagery on her clothing and the simple colors bring a sense of peace and order to her inherent confused state.
The place where I now live is a beautiful historic fishing town, Gloucester, Massachusetts. I took a train here from Boston 36 years ago when I was 26, with my two small children. I was escaping from an abusive situation. I love my adopted city but perhaps because I wasn’t born here, I’ve never felt that Gloucester was my real home. I’ve met many people who’ve immigrated here from all over the country and all over the world. What we have in common is our love for this place. We are all daily striving to create a home and a sense of community, Under the Sky.
Caitlin and Nicole have been working on projects together since childhood. Although each artist has a distinct style, they combine their talents to create a shared environment within their work. In Infestation of Hanging Garden, Caitlin's apprehensive worms take residence in Nicole's detailed flora and baroque imagery. The infestation is more of a symbiotic relationship that encourages the other to thrive within the sisterly environment.
Self-portraiture is a way of cathartically processing my emotions as well as an important means of reflecting on life experiences. I use myself as a vehicle for storytelling as well as regaining agency over my body as a queer trans woman.
By continuing the tradition of oil painting, I am engaging with a medium that has objectified women since its conception. Placing myself as the subject in a tradition informed by a voyeuristic history contrasts the stigma of trans bodies that is woven into the fabric of society. The act of recontextualization confronts the viewer with its position in and out of the art world, and humanizes queerness by expanding beyond the physical.
Earth and Water are part of a new series titled Elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Air. In the last few years I have worked on a number of paintings that focused on the feminine aspect of the divine. The Goddess religions offer a different approach to nature and spirituality that is inclusive, mindful and lacks the oppressive qualities of patriarchal religions.
I was greatly inspired by the 1970s efforts of feminist artists to reclaim the Great Goddess. From the artistic practices of these artists to the archeological discoveries and the feminist approach to study of the pre-patriarchal Goddess civilizations, women were able to recover some of their lost history. In addition, there is a close link between the Goddess traditions of today and the growing awareness of the ecological devastation of our planet. Each painting in the series focuses on a specific element used in Goddess spiritual practices as a symbol of power and a connection to the natural world.
Interesting things happen when you are not paying attention. You are examining the world through your camera, capturing people around you, learning about them, telling their story and slowly you realize you are starting to tell your story.
During my decade long project Bridget and I, I found myself exploring my life through a series of self portraits taken alongside my mannequin named Bridget. While in the process of creating the photos, I realized that this was my visual journal, my mirror in which my life was reflected.
At some point I no longer needed another person to tell my story. It was okay to become vulnerable and I was ready to open myself up even deeper. The images you see are the intimate and honest reveal of myself.
They tell the story of my life – a woman, immigrant, gay artist. Some images are reflections of my mother, my grandmother, my best friend Goshka who passed away 12 years ago. They are stories of love, endurance, loss and changes.
When I look at most trees, I find a human form in the shapes of the trunk and branches. When I look at a birch tree, my focus shifts to the patterns on the bark. Eyes, skin, mouths appear, some in conversation with others in their stand of birch.
Drawing connections between human features and the elements of landscape – rocks, trees, clouds, water – has always been central to my artistic practice. It both satisfies my imagination and expresses my desire that we see ourselves not as separate from, but as part of the living world around us.
My work begins with a fascination with nature, combined with a love of pattern, decoration, and ornamentation. In this series, I explore pollinating species, from hummingbirds to moths, bees to beetles, as well as other beneficial insects and the plants they pollinate. Many pollinator species are threatened with extinction, which will have deep and troubling consequences for biodiversity and our own sustainability.
The mandala is a guidance tool used in various spiritual traditions to aid meditation or trance. I use the form of the mandala, repeating shapes and motifs to create a meditative experience for the viewer to reflect on these essential creatures that are so vital to our ecosystem, and ultimately, our survival.
My prints focus on the tension between figures as they come into contact with one another. The tension is the simple push and pull of interaction that happens in any relationship – between friends, lovers, parent and child, even strangers. My intention is for the viewer to make associations with their own personal experience relating to the connection/disconnection of the abstracted human forms and the symbolism represented by the objects they hold.
In my work I incorporate the use of multiple mediums including oil, acrylic, pencil and tar. Each composition uses a structured amount of space and adheres to a flat picture plane. I strive for subtle yet direct color variations and the restrained use of marks and line. I add the suggestion of texture and form with materials and found objects that decorate and define the painting’s space. The placement of each object is deliberate - yet uneven. It is through this inconsistency that I promote the idea of assemblage, space, meaning and intent.
In my portraits, by separating and defining this space, I encourage the focus to come to center and deliberate solely on the model. Her needs, her wants - all that she knows - is what I urge the viewer to see.
I hope for the hint of a hidden dialogue to be felt, the possibility that she is sharing secrets and imposing the kind of emotion that only unspoken exchanges can evoke.
Funded in part by a grant from The CreateWell Fund, my current in-progress project entitled Legends Breathe explores the power of creativity and the imagination in overcoming traumatic experiences. Based on interviews with different female-identified artists about childhood fantasies that assisted them in overcoming trauma or extreme circumstances, this project speaks to a strategy and methodology of survival activated through the power of creativity.
Each video, which will eventually be installed together as an interactive installation, explores these individual fantasies, highlighting their uniqueness, their commonalities, and their inherent power. One primary element evident in all the fantasies is a harvesting of strength and transcendence through a deep connection to the natural world. The work is populated by endangered species and threatened habitats, conveying a link between the trauma and healing of our planet to that of the individual. Presented in 13WOMEN are two of the pieces which will be included in the final large-scale installation: The Lady and the Bear and Water Mythologies.
My work as an artist is informed by a lifelong interest in folklore and mythology and a deep reverence for nature. I look at the phenomena of the natural world through the lens of story and imagination. In the studio, I take a “mad scientist” approach to art making: I create hybrid creatures by morphing together humans, animals and plants.
In my drawings and collages, I examine the interconnectedness of all life and the vulnerability that we all share. I’m interested in the connection between humans and animals and the ways in which they are entwined. Similarly, I imagine ways that plants and animals can be conflated. The hybrid creatures I create arise from a blurring of permeable boundaries: those between humans and animals, flora and fauna, predator and prey, food seeker and food source, and the human and spirit realms. I see the creatures I paint and collage as mediators between worlds, inhabiting a hypothetical, plausible, other world constructed in the art studio yet solidly rooted in nature.
For decades, never wanting to be tied to a printing press, my pursuit of making printed marks has taken me through all manner of hand-made impressions, transfers and stenciling. I have been screen-printing into my paintings for the past ten years, leaving me with a heavy investment in more than sixty screens. Time, energy and ideas accumulated into my own language of mark making.
My mind is always working to come up with new ways to capitalize on this investment. Adding pressure + viscosity to the mix, has resulted in my total surrender to working on a press again.
Screen printing with thick, tacky ink onto a plexiglass plate + rolling over with a more juicy, fluid ink + hand working to my heart's content before cranking through the press = ever-surprising results.
Resistance + pressure = Printed prints <3
Having trouble thinking of a Valentine's Day gift for that special someone this year? Simplify your holiday shopping at 13FOREST, where we offer a wide range of art and other gifts to help you declare your feelings. Start with our helpful gift guide below, and make sure to stop by the gallery soon to shop our whole collection.
Sheila Corkery carves the organic forms found in her jewelry out of wax before casting them in silver. She finds inspiration for her pieces in plants and other natural materials that she finds on her travels. She combines her silver forms with other natural materials like red silk and brown leather that add a sensual touch to her work.
Artist Linda Cordner works in a unique style of painting called encaustic, where the painting is composed using a mixture of molten wax and oil paint. The wax allows Cordner to create thick texture and translucent colors on her panels that creates an effect unlike any other method of painting.
Working with materials like copper and brass, and even washers found at the hardware store, Karenna Maraj transforms these humble metals through careful manipulation and thoughtful composition to create show-stopping statement jewelry.
These petite 6" x 6" framed mixed-media prints by Dominique Lecomte combine the techniques of linocut, a form of printmaking, with watercolor to form sweet images with lots of personality that make the perfect little gift.
Jennifer Crowe uses cool blue and turquoise glazes to decorate the clean, simple lines of her ceramic vessels, creating visual interest through bold geometric lines. Her pieces offer both style and functionality.
On Sunday, January 28 we had a packed house for Andrew Stearns, one of the artists from our current exhibition Etched & Carved, who gave an in-depth look into one of the printmaking processes he uses in his artistic practice.
Stearns walked us through the steps of creating the small two-color landscape he had brought as an example. To begin he demonstrated how he uses a roller to apply a thin coat of ink to a carved woodblock, explaining his preference for thinner inks with transparencies that allow different colors to combine in unique ways.
Taking questions from the crowd, Stearns discussed many different aspects of the printmaking process and his own career as an artist. He brought out the carving tools and gouges he uses to scrape away the negative space on his woodblock. Although he starts out with a basic sketch when carving the block, much of the development of the image happens right on the block with the carving tools.
Stearns had plenty of tips for the younger art enthusiasts in the audience. Using sticky foam shapes on foam core or materials that are easier to carve like soft linoleum blocks, or even potatoes, amateur artists can experiment with creating their own print blocks at home - preferably with washable water-based inks. Stearns finished his demonstration by letting people try to recreate his print with the tools he had brought with him. It was a great afternoon of learning and art appreciation!
After inking his woodblock, Stearns showed us how to make sure the registration is perfect, meaning that all of the image components line up correctly. To do this he uses a form made out of foam core board that holds a woodblock in position as he prints its image onto a sheet of paper.
After checking the registration, Stearns applied pressure to the paper to transfer the ink from the woodblock, first by using a smooth round pad called a baren, and then by going over small details with the back of a kitchen spoon. After transferring the image, he carefully peeled the paper from the block and revealed a finished print.