Allegory of Forests

48″ x 96″, Oil on canvas

2019, FM Oakland Studios
2020, The In Art Gallery, Director’s Award (winner)

The Allegory of Forests is intentionally ambiguous. Is the narrative of the forest? or by the forest? Or perhaps it is a story told among many forests. Oil painting in large format allows me to explore spatial relationships not possible with photography. The forest fire, the secluded forest, the river, the glacier and the mountain coexist in a single space. These domains are not simultaneously visible in reality but are connected in actuality.

The forest fire references those of the immense Camp Fire that destroyed Paradise, California in 2018 (link). The fire was originally painted in reds and oranges when I discovered the partially unfinished white of the canvas lends an intense brightness similar to the real event. Titanium white is then used directly to complete the surface, giving the appearance of the canvas itself consuming the building structures.

People are absent, their impact is implied. Our objects remain to represent us. The absence of people is also indicative of tragic unease and disaster. During the fires, the entire SF Bay Area and California valley sheltered to avoid smoke while the residence of Paradise abandoned their town. Without the presence of people our buildings and vehicles appear unnatural and out of place.

Meanwhile, in remote places, horses and other animals live out their lives only remotely aware of human tragedy and its natural impacts. The effects, carried over great distances, are nevertheless persistent. Glaciers drip away in the distance (link). This ecology is lived and enacted within the space of the canvas.

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