January 10 – February 9, 2008
James Harris Gallery is pleased to present a small selection from Claire Cowie’s latest body of work in our project space. Anchored by a new sculpture and including two works on paper, the show highlights a consistent theme of transmogrification that has occurred throughout Cowie’s work. In her new work, the artist has heightened her emphasis on creating tension between the beautiful and the grotesque.
The focal point of the show is a sculpture of a tree. Sitting in the branches of this animated and anthropomorphized object are the signature creatures Cowie is so known for. Unaware of the decay below, they nest among the brown branches. Her signature drips of paint and gesso creates fluidity of form. Accompanying the sculpture are two watercolors that like the three dimension work, emphasize a balance between familiarity and strangeness. They describe an arboreal world that is physical and psychological, comforting and disconcerting. This is a recurring theme that underlies Cowie’s artistic practice to date.
One can also see traces of Cowie’s recent Village series in which the artist utilized a bird’s eye view into a bleak but stunning landscape. Though her work has always been additive, combining disembodied appendages and elements of flora and fauna now the artist has pushed these ideas to a new extreme by balancing on the line between beauty and the monstrosity. The forms are animal, human, and sometimes both, creating a personal landscape that questions: What defines our place in the world and how do we know and understand the way in which we see it?