the trees turned to shadows in a grey fog, Cole Sternberg’s latest exhibition at there-there is inspired by the 1912 book entitled ‘The Jungle and the Sea’ by H.L. Tomlinson. The book, considered a masterpiece of travel literature, depicts a Londoner's first ocean voyage and a traveler’s experience in Amazonia.
Sternberg continues his larger practice by examining the environment and pursuing narratives around humanity exploiting the earth’s resources and nature’s attempts to replenish. His paintings are created by layering of the medium and dramatic exposure to the elements. A key trope throughout this body of work is erasure. The works are left out in in the forest, where they succumb to the natural elements; rain, earth and wildlife. The organic components of the ground texture the work, and ultimately they’re dragged into the lake. The resulting paintings are transformed by the rigorous metamorphosis imposed by nature onto the picture plane.
Sternberg surrenders systemic approaches to composition and constructing pictures to the chance operations of environmental factors to produce the paintings. As such, they are significant cultural artifacts of our time. Nature here negotiates style and form laid bare from the exposed elements onto the unprimed linen.
The paintings surround a tall, slim bronze sapling tree. The tree reaches as a totem, reliquary or memorial to the environmental crisis by conjuring the potential impermanence paradoxically rendered in bronze. Its details are specific down to the hairline cracks in the bark and throughout are pinhead nodules. It grows directly from the concrete, unfettered.
Location: 4859 Fountain Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90029
Hours: 11am – 5pm, Tuesday through Saturday