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adam bateman / IN A DRY YEAR

hpgrp gallery New York
529 West 20th Street, #2W, 212.727.2491
September 10 - October 9, 2010
Reception: Friday, September 10, 6 - 8 PM
Web Site

Reservoirs are the primary water features that allow us to drink, bathe, water lawns, water golf courses, fill swimming pools, and irrigate crops.  Dams are perfect incarnations of Modernism’s idea that “form follows function.”   Without dams there could be no pastoral in the western United States.   In themselves they are functional architecture that makes life and agriculture possible in the arid West.  The pastoral landscape made possible by dams and reservoirs becomes the subject of regional paintings and photographs that take part in the tradition started by Thoreau and Church, among others.  The same landscapes inspire tourism generating millions of dollars.  The landscape, because of the dams, supports tens of millions of people where 70 years ago there were only thousands.    Extracted from the landscape, dams are formally beautiful objects.  Like Whiteread’s concrete stairway negatives or Serra’s Torqued Ellipses, they occupy space as aesthetic objects.  These objects begin as functional forms that serve to create a pastoral landscape and make urban desert life possible and end as aesthetic objects that are the subject of thousands of tourist photographs every day.    In this body of work I’m continuing my exploration of the idea of the sublime through landscape as expressed by the Hudson River School as well as through form as expressed by Modern painters and sculptors by creating modernist forms from elements of the pastoral.  In this case, I manufactured a scale model of the Glen Canyon Dam that forms Lake Powell in Southern Utah.  I’ve also intervened in landscape photography taken around my home state by replacing the dams in the photos with flat color fields creating both beautiful landscape photos and engaging with them in a painterly way, accentuating the form of the dams and their imposition on the landscape.  I’m also exhibiting a couple of videos that explore the aesthetic qualities of a reservoir in the desert, in one case engaging directly with Pollock and in another, engaging with Ab Ex by treating the surface of the lake as the canvas.    Also in the exhibition will be sculpture and video relating to my previous work representing the other end of the irrigation system—abstract sculptural work made from sprinkler parts.
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