Lombard Freid Projects is pleased to present Landsmen, Eva Struble’s third solo exhibition of paintings at the gallery. Having explored decaying corners of Baltimore, Brooklyn and Barcelona through a socio-environmental lens for painting, Struble has returned her focus on an abandoned pocket of America’s most populated city: the Brooklyn Navy Yard. With her audacious use of pinks, reds and greens combined with a sensual application and removal of paint, Struble continues to seduce the viewers as she investigates the edge of real landscape and visceral abstraction.
Struble’s last exploration of New York City revolved around a neighborhood that had fallen into decline through a chemical catastrophe, her latest series looks into a location that was built and destroyed around its own internal economy. The Navy Yard, simultaneously situated within the landscape of NYC while operating outside of city life, was once an active United States naval base that has now fallen from its original grandeur during the first and second World Wars. These ruins, at once imposing and picturesque, will soon undergo a major transformation as plans to open a 55,000 square foot supermarket on the site were recently approved.
Admiral’s Row—houses, hospital and cemetery built in the late 1800s, once stood as symbols of position and power, are now falling in on themselves. Barbed wire protects them while they rot and become devoured by vines. Struble is attracted to the degraded scraps of our reality and looks within them so that they might reveal qualities of the sublime.
The Brooklyn Historical Society and the New York Historical Society provided Struble with records of the Navy Yard’s 100+ years through old photos of steamships and warship launchings. Struble listened to recordings of female WWII workers recalling how they flirted with marines while preparing tools and warships to fight the Japanese. These recordings inspired Eva’s in her interest in how the mundane details of everyday life can quickly eclipse the solemnity of a historical event one might be caught in at any given moment.
During her residency in Marin Headlands Eva was able to further surround herself in an environment of nostalgia, living in a time capsule of an officer’s house in Fort Barry a former Military base. Used historical photographs of the currently decaying Navy Yard while living in a time capsule of a former officer’s house in Fort Barry during a fellowship in the Marin Headlands in California. She could look across the pale green Formica of her 1940s kitchen, with its many layers of paint softening every hard edge, and out the window at the military practice field below to see each stage of disintegration slowly destroying the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
The phases of history and development reveal themselves in the coats of paint and patterns of Struble’s paintings. The realism of the reference photographs is broken down through her vivid color fields and layering of textures. The images, at once organic and geometric, go beyond documenting the many stories of the Navy Yards and enter the realm of vibrant surrealism.
Eva Struble graduated in 2006 with a MFA in painting from Yale University