Neatly tucked into Roosevelt Row, the Treeo Gallery recently showcased the work of painters Dan Nearing and Geoffrey Gersten. The combination of their paintings equally appeals to those with a sweet tooth and observant eye.
Dan Nearing’s saccharine infused paintings humbly pay homage to the pre-digital era candy wrapper. Choosing to depict such accessible and inexpensive subject matter is a nod towards the pop art era that emerged in the mid 1950’s. The bright palette, enlarged iconography, and realistic depictions of such familiar packaging leaves little left to the viewer’s imagination. Notions of childhood nostalgia and waiting in convenient store checkout lines ruminate below the surface as such marketing brands are deeply ingrained in nearly every American’s psyche. The occasional insect or bird makes its way into Nearing’s compositions, if only to add to the fun imagery.
“MK-ULTRA/Guernica” is one of the exhibition’s highlights as Gersten’s intent is to further the anti-war agenda of Picasso’s infamous work. The title references the CIA’s mind control program that experimented on human subjects in an attempt to develop drugs like LSD for their own questionable purposes. Gersten is successful in bringing these troubling moral situations into our consciousness. Formally he is playful, using bright color patterns, repetition of figures, and merging modernist figures with more realistically depicted imagery.
Nearing and Gersten’s work compliments one another – one heavy in content, the other in flavor. Together they offer a well rounded survey of two artists who have carved out a unique niche for themselves.