Currently on view at Matthew Marks in New York, painter Leidy Churchmann presents a wide-ranging selection of canvases exploring the artist’s ever-evolving sensibility and eye, exploring the landscape of modernity at a range of scales and points of inquiry. Titled Earth Bound, the show is a nuanced and intriguing exploration of the world, treating its residents and phenomena as a stream of images, and exploring the effects of their simultaneous presentation within the gallery.
In Churchman’s work, no subject is off limits. Past subjects have included landscapes, advertisements, online videos, Tibetan Buddhism, current events, nature photos, scientific diagrams, philosophical concepts, and even the work of other artists, creating a shifting sphere of visual iconographies that seem to approach the constant stream of images present in our daily media intake. Yet Churchman’s subjects are conspicuously personal, more like a browser history than an encyclopedia, and present the artist’s own act of seeing in engagement with the work he products. Meditative and deliberate, these works show an artist constantly exploring the act of capturing, of condensing information and cultural meaning in a way that delves ever deeper into the subject itself, its mooring in reality, and Churchmann’s own act of extraction. Churchman’s pursuit of the universal starts with the specific. The artist has said, “When we look up at the sky everything we see is the past and has already died a thousand, million, or billions of years ago. The paintings seem like this, a stage of things that have already happened but seem to be playing out in real time before us.”
The scale of these twenty-one new paintings varies from a one-foot-tall abstract composition to an interior scene more than eight feet wide. One painting depicts the camera lenses of the newest iPhone arranged like three eyes, another a bouquet of roses, while another, based on a Tantric divination card, pictures a cloud-covered Earth from space with a new Earth rising up behind it. In each, Churchman does little to mitigate a sense of personal significance, and even wonder in these pieces, delving into their surfaces to explore and understand just how the image, and the viewer’s eye, works.
The show is on view through April 18th.
— D. Creahan
Leidy Churchman [Exhibition Site]