The dream of a better or perfect world, Utopia, seems to be inescapable for humans. Humans have the cognitive capacity to imagine any conceivable future. With this notion in mind, humans seek ways of improving the inner world and the external world. The woman described below bring both the internal & external worlds together in her act of painting. What she has in her mind & in her paintings are the same notions humans express daily.
At 25, Natasha Kissell took the art world by storm when the famed Saatchi Gallery purchased her entire Royal College of Art graduation show.
Since then, the 31-year-old landscape painter has made the shortlist for the Jerwood Painting Prize, Beck’s Futures and the Celeste Art Prize. Her trademark is featuring modernist architecture in her traditional landscapes. ‘It’s an amalgamation of different parts of the world on canvas; in modern life we’re always in different places at the same time.’ Ms. Kissell’s paintings are hyper realistic – you see the intimate details of a butterfly wing, individual tree branches, steel planks – but the juxtaposition of the objects are not – a modern house similar to her childhood home often sits in bucolic environs, or perched comfortably on the side of a snowy hill.
Lesson / Koan : The nature of notions is known by all.
PINK CANYONS transports Mies Van Der Rohe’s Barcelona Pavilion to an Arizona canyon. In the recent Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art show ‘Painting The Glass House’, Ms. Kissell’s work perhaps suggest that mother nature is the only true companion and owner of modern architecture. Ms. Kissell’s psycho-geography comes in the form of the landscapes that the buildings exist in creating a double utopia, the two in conversation with each other. The usual crowds of tourists that would swarm around Van Der Rohe’s Barcelona Pavilion are emptied out, in a desire to allow the building to exist in tranquility matched only by the sun gently going down in the Arizona outback. This also creates a surreal juxtaposition, two far away places united in one canvas.
Ms. Kissell is influenced by the Siennese painters of the 14th and 15th centuries. This is why she combines many perspectives in one picture. The neatness comes I guess because it is more the idea of place, the concept of holding an ideal, a utopia in mind than the loved experience. Ms. Kissell uses not just one utopia but two – that of the beauty of nature, and also that of the beauty and perfection of design, hence the modernist architecture, not the modernism of 60’s high rises but the modernism of exquisite design where architects compete with the natural world to create something spectacular.
The artists featured in ‘Painting The Glass House’ exhibition are interested not only in the potential of utopian ideas, but also the sense of a passing idealism that modern architecture now embodies. The artists are less interested in the built structures themselves and what it might feel like to be inside one, and more interested in the philosophy and idealism they represent. The way in which the buildings signal a possibility of utopia is essential—a future that could have been.
a few individuals to look up…
Painting the Glass House: Artists Revisit Modern Architecture brings together two-dimensional works of various media (including video) that explore an interest among emerging artists in architecture of the modern period. The exhibition includes work by Alexander Apóstol, Daniel Arsham, Gordon Cheung, David Claerbout, Angela Dufresne, Mark Dziewulski, Christine Erhard, Cyprien Gaillard, Terence Gower, Angelina Gualdoni, Natasha Kissell, Luisa Lambri, Dorit Margreiter, Russell Nachman, Enoc Perez, and Lucy Williams.