Rare Gallery is pleased to present a series of new paintings and works on paper by Christine Gray, a Richmond, Virginia-based artist, in “Closer and Closer,” her solo debut in New York. Her works focus on the very human impulse to purse revelatory experiences via Nature. In order to conjure these extraordinary moments of communion, Gray crafts make-shift talismanic objects of almost prehistoric intensity and simplicity and then paints them into settings of gorgeous luminosity and otherworldliness. The objects and their settings concentrate humankind’s desires and yearnings, transforming them into something transcendent.
In Late Lights (2010) and Closer and Closer (2009), for example, a broken gourd-shaped vessel, a horseshoe magnet, and various feathered, fabric and twig appendages are floated in backyard settings suffused with the ethereal light of peculiarly illuminated nighttime skies. Gray employs the suburban backyard as an entry point to Nature because its illusion of privacy and ownership allows anxieties to subside to permit experience-seekers to move closer to Nature.
Glow-Lure Tears for Moth Mass (2009) seems to take things a step further by turning a backyard setting into a cave-like environment emitting a sulfurous glow and studded with crystalline and stalagmite-like structures topped off by a suspended mass of interlocked moths. Viewed through a flimsy wood bower, a pitch black sky can barely contain a mirage of cascading stars.
The title of the exhibition, “Closer and Closer,” underlines the persistence of Man’s search for personal, meaningful interludes with the natural world. However, the very nature of this determination is weighed down with the intent to control or harness occurrences rather than allow them to come about naturally.
The artificiality of Man’s approach is hinted at by the artist’s purposeful bursting of the illusion her paintings seek to create – she allows us to see the various ropes, gadgets, and other contraptions that hold together the three-dimensional settings she cobbles together in her studio and on which her paintings are based. It is Gray’s way of indicating that attaining higher planes of spiritual existence cannot be forced or manufactured. Yet in spite of our laborious and perhaps even delusional (how can one expect to experience the full force of Nature sitting in a backyard?) efforts in this regard, our intent and purpose appear to be full of joyous and sincere celebration.
Gray has had one-person exhibitions at Okay Mountain in Austin, Texas; Project 4 in Washington, D.C.; and Cress Gallery of Art at the University of Tennessee. She recently completed residencies at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts in Omaha, Nebraska, and at 7 Below in Burlington, Vermont. She also has received generous support from the Golden Foundation and Virginia Commonwealth University. Gray won the 2010 Miami University Young Painters Competition for the William and Dorothy Yeck Award.