Lombard-Freid Projects is pleased to present Newtown, Eva Struble’s second solo exhibition at the gallery.
The artist’s interest in postindustrial contaminated sites seen through the lens of historical landscape painting is further explored in this new body of works.
A short time after she settled in her Greenpoint apartment in Brooklyn, Struble began to investigate her surroundings with a specific focus on Newtown Creek, the body of water butting up against her neighborhood that separates Brooklyn and Queens. The creek is also the site of the largest toxic oil spill in US history, and subject of a lawsuit recently filed between the residents of Greenpoint, and Exxon, BP and Chevron. The creek is home to much of Brooklyn’s industrial history having been the site of animal rendering plants at the turn of the century, and later a litany of other industries including energy, trash, and sewage treatment amongst others.
Working with imagery close to home is paradigmatic of Struble’s work, following her exploration of Superfund sites in Baltimore in her previous show. The relics of a once booming American industry are a compelling subject for her, both in her personal connection to the cities and to the politics of nature. Exploring by foot, boat and bike the abandoned areas surrounding the creek constituted the research portion of her project. Despite the bleakness of the subject matter, her paintings are tempered by a love for the natural form of water, light and the many ways reflection works.
“There is something horrifying and beautiful about these places; something akin to the seductive, stark industry in the films of Antonioni and Tarkovsky, or the urban decay of Tsai Ming-Liang,” the artist notes.
Struble’s paintings approach pertinent issues currently in the media headlines concerning our threatened natural world, reinventing this subject matter into stunning and remarkably articulated abstractions.
In Greenpoint Ave (2007), the canvas is divided by a diagonal wall seen from a bird’s eye view. On one side, dark circles scatter in a chaotic pattern. They appear to be old tires from a debris field, yet they storm the canvas with uncanny power. The unconventional perspective and the dynamic composition give the painting its unsettling rhythm.
Metropolitan Ave (2007) may well be a road in the aftermath of a disaster. The painting is lush, the colors are dense, chunks of paint alternate with scratched surfaces. The artist seems to suggest a Brooklyn vista in a post-apocalyptic scene, yet the sheer beauty of the painting invites meditative contemplation.
Eva Struble graduated in 2006 with a MFA in painting from Yale University.