7/12/09 4:31 PM
Bringing together the subject of moody, romantic landscapes with formal, experimental and strictly material concerns, Leah Maxwell does the unthinkable in her heavily worked canvases. Thus a dark, stormy seascape lit by an impossibly bright sunset meets hard-edged rectangles of scraped, acid-color paint, while a shady nighttime forest girded by a shimmering lake is cut through with swaths of scratchy green and blue. It’s the strangest of mixings, and while each style of painting might individually seem a bit clichéd, it turns out that one plus one cliché does not equal two. On the contrary, it’s hard to say what it does equal, as it’s often hard to know quite how to look at that which you’ve never really seen before. And that, above all else, is the strength of these painting: their insistence, or rather Maxwell’s, on painting as if precedents were not to be respected as untouchable, but rather as fodder for unexpected and even nonsensical stylistic juxtaposition.