There is something very striking about the way that traditional art mediums, and paintings in particular, have a way of combining realities, picking bits of one time placed next to pieces of another place at the whim of the artist. Landscapes are fictionalized and manipulated to seem like reality, characters are positioned at the whim of the artist, and all with great precision and accuracy so as to become true. It’s interesting that this mashing of realities has become ubiquitous with technology—think “Photoshopping” two different pictures together — and a somewhat derogatory aspect of the medium, but the same techniques and methods are unquestioned when painting is concerned.
What is also very interesting is when a painter creates images, distinctly derived from completely different landscapes, to make paintings that resemble technological mash ups. This flipping of imagery and technology is on display at Five 15 gallery with the exhibition titled Simultaneous by Hallie Mueller. The paintings depict areas, pieces of color spread across the canvas in precise smears, that are taken from two different locations. Mueller creates these large scale paintings by selecting areas from two different places that she has visited, meticulously separating a little bit from landscape A with a little bit from landscape B to create a hybrid, a non reality, a non-place.
This pulling from different landscapes isn’t a new thing, but the way that Mueller selects particular splices of color, small curved contours that resemble vector shapes, is reminiscent of digital designs and graphics with areas usually comprised of one color fill. The paintings have a graphic element to them, with parts of one landscape or area, like the fence to the left of Fort Pickens and Canyon Mount in dramatic detail, layered with the shockingly bold whites and reds and blues of mountain. What transpires is a little bit of man weaved with a little bit of nature in an abstracted reality. Spaces hover over other spaces, like the trail view that floats above the Adirondack Summit. Urban areas weave around nature, like the onramp of Las Vegas curving around the birch tree. Nature and progress are chosen for their abstracted beauty and dissonant harmony.
And therein lies the beauty of these images, their ability to lie somewhere between pure abstraction and a abstracted reality. And in all of them the lines between place, truth, virtual reality and abstraction are blurred, layered, and spliced to create striking paintings combining landscapes and color, presenting truth with the something that lies in between.