Above the Sea and Below the Sky
Featuring works by Merrick Adams, Carolyn Case, Fritz Chesnut, and Emma Corrall
January 13 - February 12, 2024 | Saturday, January 13th, 5-8 pm.
ABOVE THE SEA AND BELOW THE SKY, a group show from La Loma Projects co-curated by Anastasija Jevtovic, pools works by Merrick Adams, Carolyn Case, Fritz Chesnut, and Emma Corrall. Motion—be it current, drift, eddy, leap, or surge—flows from each work to the next. These paintings, radiant in movement and glinting in surface, ferry the viewer from the familiar toward the invisible, toward a realm where the known presses against the unknown.
Adams’ mesmerizing oceanic paintings are as lilting and luminous as they are enveloping and monumental. Their illusory surfaces, created through built-up layers of paint and plastic netting lifted from the depths at the end of his process to reveal sometimes fifteen different sheets of color, appear animated, steadily undulating onward. As hypnotic as the dance of light across water flowing and flown, the paintings lead viewers into an almost meditative state that seems to exist outside time and space.
Case’s frenetic oil and pastel tableaus are like waves crashing upon rock, white water, foam, and flotsam, erupting in every direction. Great swaths of rollicking color, energetic dashes, twirling gestures, and elusive shapes that flicker like the shadow of a familiar object just out of sight burst the bounds of the canvas. Where certain marks linger on the surface, others dig into the picture plane, just as select gestalts appear to be coming together and others breaking apart. Similar also to the way direction and velocity in one moment appear centrifugal and the other centrical. The sense of incongruence and irresolution is immersive and delirious, pulling you in as it pushes you back.
Chesnut’s chimerical surfaces reverberate with a kinetic energy that’s all at once sonic, aqueous, and fibrous. Blurring the boundaries between painting and object, skeins of paint form lines, grids, waves, weaves, and dots of variegated textures and viscosities. Overlaid atop aquamarine, a navy pattern appears tidal, while umber atop ochre resembles wood grain, and still elsewhere, the contrast between layers creates an optical illusion so stirring that identifying a single color is nearly impossible. The process set in motion by the artists feels as though it has been suddenly arrested, and its continuation is both inevitable and imminent.
Corrall’s prismatic oil paintings preserve the ephemeral wonder of a rainbow refracting from the surface of a soap bubble, an oil spill swirling atop a puddle, and the scattering of the final rays of sunlight across a cloud-covered horizon line. The balletic gestures, amorphic shapes, and arabesques of pearlescent colors seem continuously unfurling, streaming, gathering, and dispersing. To look away and then back again is to see something new that you could almost swear wasn’t there before.
Like the rhythms of the night in Sylvia Plath’s poem The Night Dances, the flow in these paintings with their “pure leaps and spirals—” surely “travel / The World forever.” –Tara Anne Dalbow
Image: Carolyn Case, "Kitchen Vase," 2023, Oil on canvas, 45" x 70"