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It seems images of natural disaster, destruction and man made catastrophe inundate our current news. Artists remain sensitive to the shift that happens in the world and in their studios. In her recent show, Infinite Unbound, Lisa Bockrath freezes that moment when man and nature collide.
Bockrath, no stranger to Cleveland, attended the Cleveland Institute of Art, graduated in 1995, and shortly after ran a successful gallery in Cleveland’s Little Italy art district. Bockrath Gallery showcased local and national artists for nearly 10 years. Bockrath has since exhibited all over the country enjoying accelerated growth and success as a painter. Lesko Gallery features recent work in her first solo show in Cleveland since 2007.
The 35 plus oil on canvas paintings in the exhibit depict pre and post apocalyptic landscapes – primarily abstract. In her statement, Bockrath describes the work as “a direct reflection of our changing environment.” One may tend to agree. If a balance between creation and destruction exists, Bockrath’s new body of work makes a case for this inquiry.
Delusions of Grandeur, captures the sense of mountain mist with the subtle light of impending doom. Imbedded in the frothy atmosphere, drips of paint slither from the bottom up creating a reversed effect. The drips become the figurative jack pines tucked behind climbing smoke painted as a plume of white currents. A palette saturated with blues and reds, white and blue and other warm colors becomes muddied in a fleshy pile of impressionist flake white. This painting may be a metaphor for the Colorado fires, or an invented landscape, maybe even a keen observation.
In contrast, White Noise, explores being in the sensuality of the moment. When thinking of white noise, one imagines sound, or the spectral density of a signal. However, Bockrath depicts White Noise in a way that could conjure images of birth, beauty, white lava or simply the incidental effect of mineral spirits carrying paint on canvas for the first time. White Noise places the viewer in a swimming pool of hazardous commotion, one that swirls around us like a soiled paint rag smothered with burnt umbers, cadmium reds and dusty whites with a tint of cobalt. Paint serves as a sort of spill, as a frozen wave, as a snapshot of a coastal storm at sea on a cold Pacific night. Whatever the case, the imagery leaves the viewer alone to enjoy. This large painting captivates in contrast to some of the other work that implies a harsher reality.
Standing in front of the large body of paintings, one can not help but think about the fires in Colorado, maybe a first contact with nature, or even the work of J.M.W. Turner. Colorado has some of the most diverse and amazing terrain in our country, its beauty untamed, one’s memory of it unforgettable. To experience these paintings by Lissa Bockrath at Kenneth Paul Lesko Gallery feels warm and powerful. However, one may be reminded of our changing world, of rushing waters, of cold mountain nights as the paint reveals a beautiful disaster, of a sense of creation, even a simple sensuality to our natural system.
Infinate Unbound exhibited at Kenneth Paul Lesko Gallery from May 11 – July 14 2012.
Jenniffer Omaitz is an artist, educator, and writer based in northern Ohio. View more articles by Jenniffer Omaitz.