Claire Sherman paints landscapes as they collapse into abstraction. Depicting invented scenes of forests, caves, rocks, and grasses—composites of imagery from her travels and research—with stylized drama, she creates a tug of war between deep and shallow space, and between specificity and ambiguity. Her highly gestural mark making comes to the fore, the physicality of the paint pushing against the immersive pull of the familiar images. Sherman’s works are as much about painting itself, and its tactile illusions, as they are about nature’s own allures.
How does an artist engage with the long history of landscape painting in the 21st century? What makes it relevant to our contemporary experience? Claire Sherman grapples with these questions, pushing against the romanticism of the genre and depicting landscapes as they gradually dissolve into abstraction. Her invented scenes of forests, caves, rocks, and grasses—composites of found imagery that she has collected over time, or synthesized from her photographs—are ultimately not interested in a truthful representation of place, but instead attempt to address our larger relationship with both the natural world and with contemporary media.
Sherman’s scenes are strangely seductive, beckoning us into the immersive, visceral quality of the large-scale canvases. The ubiquity of her imagery lends them coherency yet, upon approach, they collapse. What was a stem, trunk, or rock from afar turns into painterly exuberance; details decompose into abstracted lines and planes of paint. Sherman excels at extending this tension between the landscape’s illusory depth and a gestural mark-making, drawing attention to the inherent flatness of each painting’s surface. Occupying this in-between space, she focuses on the intimacy and immediacy of her works, wanting them to relate to our current moment, to the here now.
Claire Sherman bio:
Claire Sherman received her B.A. from The University of Pennsylvania and her M.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has completed residencies at the Terra Foundation for American Art, the MacDowell Colony, the Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation, Yaddo, The Albers Foundation, and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Workspace program. Recent exhibitions include solo shows at PATRON Gallery, Chicago; DC Moore Gallery, NY; Kavi Gupta Gallery, Chicago; KMAC Museum, Louisville; Houldsworth Gallery, London; DCKT, New York; Aurobora, San Francisco; and Hof and Huyser Gallery, Amsterdam. Recent group exhibitions include the Institute of Contemporary Art at Maine College of Art, Portland; Sun Valley Museum of Art, Ketchum, Idaho; Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco; Suburban Riverwest, Milwaukee; Gallery Seomi, Seoul; The New Gallery, Austria; and the Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, NY. Sherman is an Associate Professor at Drew University and is represented by DC Moore Gallery in New York and PATRON Gallery in Chicago.