Artist Talk, Saturday, April 10, 3-4PM CST via Zoom | On view March 5 through April 17, 2021 at Eat Paint Studio
“Inscapes,” a group painting exhibition, combines observed and sensory experience to describe a world that is both confined and expansive. On view at Eat Paint Studio, 5036 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, from March 5 – April 17, 2021
Eat Paint Studio is pleased to announce its first exhibition of 2021, “Inscapes,” featuring paintings by three artists, Claire Elliott, Vanessa Shinmoto, and Alexandra Stevenson. These paintings navigate landscapes from the inside out, blurring the boundaries between what we perceive and what we imagine. Each of the artists in this group exhibition find connections to nature as a spiritual and regenerative force while improvising on the duality of their inner and outer experiences. The exhibition will be on view at Eat Paint Studio, 5036 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, from March 5 through April 17, 2021. A Zoom artist talk will take place on Saturday, March 20, from 3 – 4PM CST.
Vanessa Shinmoto’s dreamily primordial landscape paintings eschew naturalism in favor of high-key pastels, wisps of acid greens, pale turquoise water and sky-blue skies. In the midst of what appears to be a wholly playful and intuitive painting experience, collaged elements emerge from the surface, symbolic fragments of “reality” floating between layers of paint like so much flotsam and jetsam of aspirational living; a single ripe strawberry hangs like the lure of an angler fish, a perfectly tied bow mimics a blob of paint, and a mace-like diamond pendant becomes a starfish constellation.
“Everything exists in nature and originates in nature, even these human-made objects of desire advertised in glossy magazines and catalogs,” says Shinmoto. “They seep into my interior world, hinting at the luxe lifestyle everyone is supposed to want badly enough to sacrifice their time and well-being.”
Pictured: “Transitions I,” oil and collage on canvas, 56 x 36″. Image courtesy of Vanessa Shinmoto.
Claire Elliott’s paintings of flora, greenhouse views and garden paths speak to the ways in which humans manipulate nature even as weeds continually assert their right to existence. Elliott’s paintings of thistle, dandelion, and chicory elevate an otherwise common subject in solemn, glowing portraits. Elliott’s brushwork is spontaneous and loose, celebrating the aliveness of her subject. The solitary compositions of each plant specimen imbue them with a sense of fragility while immortalizing the singular moment when they are in full flower. In her statement, Elliott explains:
“These plants are all cultivated by humans: carefully tended to in orchards, archived in greenhouses and adopted into homes. In all of these spaces, specimens that would never meet in the wild commingle in manmade corrals.”
Elliott’s window-scapes create a tangible separation between the viewer and the “unruly bounty” of nature. We are squarely inside, spectators of the unchecked natural world beyond. However constrained the viewer is, the act of painting is as vibrant and organic as its subject. Elliott finds joy in solitude and defiant beauty in her ordinary subjects.
Pictured: “Chicory,” Acryla Gouache on Yupo paper, 12 x 9″. Image courtesy of Claire Elliott.
Alexandra Stevenson’s neighborhood landscapes flicker between memory and observation. The familiar geometric shapes of houses, windows, and rooftops are rendered against a muted skies of pale pinks, ochres, and steely blues. Stevenson uses a cold wax technique which further imparts a sense of otherworldly stillness to her work; the textural surface is meditative and soft, punctuated by the spread and scrape of a palette knife. Trees merge with rooftops and house-shapes shift and fade into atmospheric space.
Describing her process, Stevenson considers why mundane subjects draw her eye, “Usually it’s a formal relationship between shapes and lines, colors and textures — what I glimpse in a moment becomes what I see in my mind’s eye and then shifts again in the studio, as soon as I put paint on a canvas.”
Pictured: “Not of woods only,” cold wax and oil on paper, 11×11″. Image courtesy of Alexandra Stevenson.
After this past year of shut-downs and isolation, I can’t help but compare Stevenson’s paintings to my own ‘mental health’ walks. There is an eerie portent inherent in these un-peopled scenes where opaque windows prevent our intrusion into dormant interior spaces. But, these landscapes are neither dark nor morbid. There is an underlying appreciation of solitude and an sense that ‘this too shall pass’ in Stevenson’s work which finds meaning in simply being present.
Register to attend our free artist talk Saturday, April 10, 3-4PM CST
About the Artists
My paintings are centered around explorations of the natural world. My subjects shift between straightforward representations of botanical collections and domestic gardens into an abstract language that seeks to replicate the unruly bounty of plants. These plants are all cultivated by humans: carefully tended to in orchards, archived in greenhouses and adopted into homes. In all of these spaces, specimens that would never meet in the wild commingle in man-made corrals. Viewed either as aesthetic adornments or utilitarian (but bountiful) agriculture sites, gardens are often associated with the feminine. This dual identity of the beautiful and the functional is central to the paintings themselves: the rigid grids of the greenhouse contrast with crowded, unusual plant forms. The abstract passages in these works hint at explorations of the elemental and mystical qualities of paint- its ability to mimic and its material allure often fighting each other, occasionally coalescing in harmony.
Claire lives and works in Portland, OR.
Extracting the hidden colors the human eye sees but does not necessarily perceive lies at the heart of all my painting. Blue is never only blue, yellow is never only yellow, red is never only red and so on and so forth. These hidden colors give the visual world infinite variety and depth, yet we can only perceive them when we take the time to really look at every object we see.
Taking this time often means hours, days, weeks and even months which is no easy task in an age where technology lends a sense of immediacy to the creation of images. Photography and video can capture images with the press of a button, making it possible to create a barrage of stylized images that often purport to represent reality. In this sense, the act of painting becomes a refuge from the stylized forms and images of photography and video that dominate our visual world.
Originally from Southern California, Vanessa made Chicago her hometown in the late 1990s.
My paintings are inspired by ordinary views. Some begin with the compacted architectural forms of urban life; others come from the natural world that pushes up through concrete or gets preserved by city dwellers who need an oasis. Whether I’m standing on a train platform or riding my bike through a city forest preserve, something catches my eye and stays with me. Usually it’s a formal relationship between shapes and lines, colors and textures — what I glimpse in a moment becomes what I see in my mind’s eye and then shifts again in the studio, as soon as I put paint on a canvas. Because paintings have a life and language of their own, painting is a negotiation. The paint and I go back and forth, with all the push and pull of any negotiation, until a composition feels confident and speaks to my initial inspiration or offers an entirely new vision.
An artist and educator, Alexandra lives and works in Chicago, IL.