June 11 – July 11, 2009
James Harris Gallery is pleased to present Waterwegen, our second exhibition of paintings by Portland artist Adam Sorensen. Giving new meaning to the Romantic landscape, the artist considers that modern man has since conquered and estranged himself from nature. What was once the voyage of the painter to the fringes of civilization to depict the landscape’s grandeur now instead must be imagined by the artist and imbued with more fantastical ideas.
Sorensen is inspired by a broad synthesis of styles, from heroic Western landscape painting to Japanese anime. The artist’s central focus in this new group of paintings is moving water. In the history of painting, water has been used as a subject not only to depict the tranquility of the pastoral landscape but also as a powerful force of nature.
Using hot acid colors in combination with a dark deep rich palette, Sorensen elicits a new-found awe in viewers. The main subject of Curtains is a rushing waterfall, a life-giving force to land. Yet as life generates with the flow of water and the glow of color, the place seems to be in an apocalyptic state. Blocks of color are braided into the bluff in the foreground, anchoring the eye while the perspective continues vastly onward. Because of Sorensen’s point of view, the viewer feels as if perched on a cliff, causing both vertigo and a rush of excitement.
With the tension he has created between monumentality of his subject matter and his vibrant atmosphere, Sorensen captures our awkward and displaced relationship with the vital yet diminishing natural environment. Still reverent, the rejuvenated narrative of these landscapes represents the precipice between life and death.