ROB REYNOLDS MOST PAINTED MOUNTAIN
Ochi Gallery is pleased to present Most Painted Mountain, a solo exhibition featuring new paintings by Los Angeles based artist Rob Reynolds. The work will be on view July 7th through August 6th with an opening reception Thursday, July 7th from 4-7 pm.
The paintings in this new body of work refer directly to iconic mountains on five continents. Formally the paintings resemble alpine landscapes, rendered meticulously in relation to recent photographs sourced in the public domain and published on the Internet. Initially apprehended in the register of representational picture making – as the viewer moves closer the imagery dissolves into the pure materiality of paint. The surfaces of these works are hyper-refined in some passages, offset by several visibly distinct layers of paint, and Reynolds manages to capture the awe-inspiring mountain sky and light with exceptional accuracy, nodding to the Light and Space artists’ interest in tempered atmosphere. Reynolds also pays homage to Andy Warhol’s Do It Yourself, paint by numbers series from the 1960s— leaving areas for the viewer to visually fill in the blanks, while also creating a metaphoric ghost-like effect within the snowy mountains.
In addition to the beauty of these works, Reynolds is not just re-painting the world’s most painted mountains; he is reframing them in relation to one another in a present day, global context. Taken together, the alpine glacial ecosystems referenced in Most Painted Mountain supply fresh water to nearly one third of the world’s population, an estimated two billion people.
These paintings point to the special place mountains occupy in the popular imagination, the challenges of scale and present day limits of comprehension; as if to point to the notion that suddenly, in the face of new historical realities, things aren’t as they used to be. In doing so, the work brings into question how the natural world might look different in the current geological interval – characterized by the increasing awareness that the physical conditions of earth are being massively reshaped by human activities.
Reynolds accompanies each image with descriptive text and the date of his recent photo research. In doing so, he asks the viewer to consider the way we understand these places in time. The title Most Painted Mountain refers directly to Japanese ukio-e artist Hokusai – whose project 36 Views of Mount Fuji addressed the mountain’s spiritual and cultural significance as source of the elixir of life.
Reynolds statement on all this is one of active and open curiosity about perception, the place of the artist, representation and the changing idea of the natural world, explored through contemporary social and art histories. We might long for these places as he paints them, we might celebrate them as if they were already gone, but in either case this work encourages us to rethink notions of the environment in terms of a new ecology. A portion of profits from Most Painted Mountain will be donated to Earthjustice.