Derek Lerner layers countless well refined marks, lines, and shapes to create complex systems that look as if we are peering through a microscope and a telescope at the same time. After 15 years of working, this group of 10 ink on paper drawings (all 2011) constitute Lerner’s latest body of work, stemming from his contradictory feelings about urban sprawl, over-development and humanity as a virus.
As Lerner’s fictional landscapes meander across the paper, growing outward as layer upon layer is applied, they depict a co-mingling of human-made and natural systems and the tensions between those forces. The elements of each composition multiply and attach themselves to one another or consume others like fungi or suburbs encroaching on open land. He coalesces questions about how complex systems work, about parasites, pesticides and poisons, genetically modified foods, over-consumption and over-population into ironically beautiful visual metaphors that reference mapping, satellite photography, microscopic imagery, radial irrigation systems as well as signs, symbols and the random marks, scrapes and scratches found on the streets of major metropolitan areas.
Looking both biological and man-made, his lyrical compositions embody dualities that reflect Lerner’s conflicted feelings about his own role and impact on our environment, “…while in many ways my work is a reaction to over-consumption and environmental politics, the drawings themselves are yet another “thing” added to the world, made no less with materials that are potentially damaging to the environment.” Although Lerner’s work emphasizes the destructive nature of man his work is evidence that beauty can be found in what humans make as well as what we destroy; and that it is perhaps unavoidable for humans to create without consuming at the same time.