Shoshana Wayne Gallery is pleased to present Russell Crotty's new paintings. The exhibition features an extensive body of work produced over the past four years, along with a selection of rare, seminal ballpoint pen drawings on paper-coated suspended globes.
This is the artist's fifth solo exhibition at Shoshana Wayne since joining the gallery in 2000.
The exhibition features around two dozen of the artist's new paintings and spotlights the influence of astronomy and lunar exploration inspired by a 2015-2016 residency at the Lick Observatory, part of the Institute of Arts & Sciences at UC Santa Cruz. An amateur astronomer, Crotty has for decades studied the night sky with his own array of small telescopes and has done several commissions for NASA. The present body of work obsessively documents celestial phenomena blended seamlessly with references to landscape, mapping, astrophysics, and space exploration, among other things, all rendered with the artist's signature, obsessive attention to minute detail, modes of perception and the raw power of line.
Crotty describes his latest body of work as a "different take on astronomy" but also as the culmination of three decades of creative exploration of the possibilities of drawing. "Drawing is still the basis of everything I do, " he says, but it is now another element along with bio-resin, recycled plastic and a host of biomorphic and mechanical painted forms drawn with a stick dipped in ink in a process he loosely characterizes as "astronomical collage."
Futuristic architectural structures and lander spacecraft come to mind looking at the paintings, though the artist insists the paintings are not representative in any way of specific objects or places. Meaning is ambiguous and fluid, with the integration of disparate visual elements into a harmonious composition that pleases the eye but challenges the mind. Decades of exploration in painting and drawing beginning with semi-abstract mark making evoking waves, surfing, and celestial and geological phenomena reveal the artist to be not just a master of emotive, surreal landscapes but a highly sophisticated colorist.
Five major paintings conceived and produced over many months for the present exhibition represent his most ambitious and successful exploration of this theme to date. The paintings begin with imaginative drawings of structures into which the artist adds, builds and visually constructs hybrid, ambiguous forms, though in these larger, more ambitious paintings the artist expands his use of atmospheric fields of color as a backdrop -- broad, mesmerizing areas of highly-nuanced color sweep the panels, giving the paintings a dream-like quality into which the viewer is invited to belong. Here the terrestrial and celestial collide.
Russell Crotty has exhibited widely nationally and internationally. Recent exhibitions include Look Back in Time at the San José Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), Peindre la Nuit (Painting the Night) at Centre Pompidou-Metz, and Stargazers: Intersections of Contemporary Art & Astronomy at the Frank M. Doyle Arts Pavilion Orange Coast College. His work can be found in numerous permanent collections including the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; MoMA, New York; the Whitney Museum, New York; MOCA, Los Angeles; LACMA, Los Angeles, and the Princeton University Art Museum. Crotty is a 2015 Guggenheim Fellow. The artist lives in Ojai and works in Ventura, California.