New York, 535 West 22nd Street
Though they draw from the long lineage of landscape painting, Waterston’s works are unbound, moving through uncharted territory. His works broach the psychological through a surreal and abstracted approach to the genre rather than taking a strictly descriptive method. The paintings are seductive, drawing the viewer in by their majesty and monstrousness. Thwarted by their artifice, one is left with a sense of yearning for something not quite attainable.
To Meet as Far as This Morning (2018), is one of the four imposing canvases that anchor the show. A craggy entity, like a rock formation sculpted over millennia by water and time, hovers centrally in the gloaming. Behind it a hematoma of pink light breaks up the expanse of gray sky, infusing the work with an unexpected electric charge. In the foreground, abstracted shapes composed of whorls of paint that suggest a topographical map unfurl across the canvas. Each form is given space to exist on its own but there is a purposeful incompleteness that heightens the psychological tension of the work. The viewer stands on the threshold of the real and the unreal, as the painting seems to offer a portal to transcendence that remains just out of reach.
As a counterpoint, Our Passage (2018) disorients in its refusal to delineate concrete forms. An expanse in shades of blue, ranging from turquoise to nearly black and spattered with points of white light, it may be a seascape or a starscape but conforms decisively to neither. The eye roams across the panel, searching, and alights on a patch of cerulean almost at the work’s center. It emerges as another portal, which is then echoed by the dark outer edges of the painting, suggesting a feeling of peering through the egress of a cave. Are we gazing at a night sky, or a deep, underwater cavern? Or perhaps instead it is a landscape of the mind, a panorama of the deep unconscious that exists within us all, yet always remains outside our grasp of understanding. Landscapes of the unknown, or perhaps the imagined, Waterston’s work suggests not only the grandeur of nature but also the instability of dreams.
Also on view will be Studio Wall: Some Trees, a title referencing the enigmatic John Ashbery poem of the same name, which touches on themes of wonder and experience. This intimate installation will be composed of historical prints of the Northern Renaissance from the artist’s personal collection alongside his own small panel paintings and works on paper. Hung in a darkened, ecclesiastical space, these personal works invite contemplation. They speak to the meditative, spiritual connections found in nature, and highlight some of the influences that inspired the genesis of the current exhibition.
On view through April 28, 2018