The Drawing Center will present Alexis Rockman: Drawings from Life of Pi from September 27 to November 3, 2013, in the Drawing Room and The Lab. Alexis Rockman’s watercolor drawings were the first stage in the development of the fantastical, imaginary world of Life of Pi, the 2012 feature film directed by Ang Lee. Lee sought out Rockman’s vision as an artist with a specific commitment to hand drawing to bring a human scale to the project. Though most artistic contributions to cinema are dependent on photo-realism or cartoon-like illustration, Rockman’s images are fluid, intimate, and dynamic in a way that only drawing can capture. The exhibition will provide The Drawing Center with a unique opportunity to explore the relationship between visual art—specifically drawing—and commercial filmmaking. Curated by Brett Littman, Executive Director and Nova Benway, Curatorial Assistant.
Alexis Rockman’s canvases present a darkly surreal vision of the collision between human civilization and the natural world. His art draws from a diverse range of inspirations, including old master painting, science fiction, and above all, natural history. In researching his paintings, Rockman has undertaken extended expeditions into the Amazon Basin, Tasmania, Madagascar, South Africa, and Antarctica. He has worked not only with other artists, but with leading scientists, including paleontologist Peter Ward on the book Future Evolution; famed naturalist Stephen Jay Gould, who contributed to the 2004 monograph Alexis Rockman; and NASA climatologist James Hanson. This last collaboration resulted in the 8 x 24 foot mural Manifest Destiny, a postapocalyptic vision of a city submerged as a possible consequence of climate change, commissioned by the Brooklyn Museum.
Rockman’s work has been featured in Wired, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal, and is in the collections of museums such as LACMA, the Guggenheim, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. He was recently the subject of a major 2010–11 retrospective at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, entitled Alexis Rockman: A Fable for Tomorrow, which traveled to The Wexner Center for the Arts. His upcoming show at Sperone Westwater Gallery will be presented in September 2013.