Mindy Solomon is pleased to present Shadow Weaving, the second solo exhibition by Tel Aviv based artist Melanie Daniel. Gestural, magical and multi-layered, this exhibition highlights Daniel’s continued investigation of the natural world. Melanie Daniel has learned to show how otherworldly this world can be. In quilted landscapes of pine forests and sylvan ponds, she conveys a fellowship with nature. These dynamic, shape-shifting environments propose an animistic, interconnected world that is revelatory and mysterious, with each painting in pursuit of a new understanding. Motifs of ghostly figures, butterflies, owls, trees, and ponds, depicted in expressive colors, patterned brushstrokes and decisive lines, assemble on the canvas in patches of light and pulsing shadows.
In her practice, Daniel excels at defying traditional narrative frameworks, achieved through the use of dense mark-making, the melding of abstraction and figuration, and by deploying unnatural color combinations activated through thin color fields and buttery strokes. Shadow Weaving is her second solo exhibition with Mindy Solomon Gallery, and the compositions feel as though they were pulled from a dream or an alternate world. Daniel draws us into a unique domain through an act of hope and restoration; communion with nature as a balm for an ailing civilization. These landscapes cast doubt on the myth of human specialness and superiority to nature through a suggested reengagement with animate Earth. Daniel asserts the idea that our very survival and humanity depends on a synchronization with the sensuous world, reconnecting our cadence with the rhythms of other animals, flora, earth and sky.
As seen in the artist’s previous work, the lone figure camouflaged amidst a disorienting backdrop returns in such paintings as Shaman. Fluid contours of trees and wild networks of branches in moody violet hues contrast with the patchwork zones of dots, lines, and zigzags. Flanked by white owls, the silent shaman observes us intently. This is a landscape that relates to an earth-based wisdom, femininity, and the fact that humans are not separate from nature, but instead, a part of it. Likewise, in Sister and Brother Coyotes, the trees magically cast solid coyote shapes over a hillside. In the history of painting, the shadow was introduced in order to bring a sense of three- dimensionality to a two-dimensional space. Daniel cleverly subverts this notion by depicting it as a substantial form; the solitary individual encounters her shadow like the weight of her unconscious self as described in Jungian psychology.
Shadow Weaving alludes to a creation of something that is fugitive, perpetually shifting or fleeting. By painting hallucinatory storylines just beyond reach, Daniel builds a sense of the magical that is both strange and recognizable, leaving room for the viewer to determine their own parallels and associations. By subverting the narrative impulse of figuration and undermining familiar tropes of landscape painting, Daniel makes work that she describes as “intimations of what lies beyond the boundaries of the self” –they begin as highly subjective meditations that transform into unsentimental, imaginative worlds that come alive at the edges of our perception. The exhibition successfully creates glimpses into liminal spaces, offering another way to look more closely at flora- fauna-human relationships.
Image: Melanie Daniel, "Sister and Brother Coyotes," 2023, Oil on canvas, 71″ x 55.″