Erik Thor Sandberg
Untitled (detail) 2011, oil on curved wood panel.
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We say 'yes' with three concurrent solo exhibitions of new paintings by Erik Thor Sandberg, Nathaniel Rogers and Katie Miller. Six centuries after Flemish oil painting branded the early modern age, each of these DC area painters maximizes his or her command of the realist technique to express the human condition in contemporary life.
ERIK THOR SANDBERG unleashes allegories of our increasingly complex relationship with nature through narratives of power and passivity that unfold across panoramic vistas in Reparatory Gestures, his fourth solo exhibition with the gallery. Sandberg, who has repeatedly demonstrated mastery of the human figure and landscape as a subjects, emphasizes the viewer's body in the experience of the topographies depicted in the four large concave paintings that anchor this new series. The artist designed curved panels to envelope us in captivating expressions of man's manipulations of the environment. Sandberg impressed artificiality on each wilderness landscape with depictions of intrusive human activity, or vestiges of it, such as a port-a-potty, picnic fixings, and guardrails. Whether his characters are engaged in libidinous acts, or immobilized by uncertainty, the contexts in which we find them question the ultimate consequences of their choices. As the picture planes bend, so do the meanings that play out across them. The concave arch of each panel pushes and pulls the ideas represented on it, diverting them from a predetermined linear progression into elusive possibilities for our thoughts to follow. Sandberg reminds us that our personal and collective journeys may lack sure direction or fixed outcomes. Yet, he also suggests, with flawlessly rendered details, including glistening drops of nectar and multi-colored birds' eggs, that nature's powers of imaging and reparation are ceaselessly at work, leaving us with hope that these forces can restore the balance that man repeatedly compromises.