Ilana Manolson: Chance Encounters
Opening this April at Cadogan Contemporary, Chance Encounters is a remarkable exhibition of recent and new works by the acclaimed Canadian American painter Ilana Manolson. Her first London presentation, the show is comprised of more than 20 acrylic paintings executed between the years 2018 and 2019, in which the artist moves between representation and abstraction to capture the essence of nature.
Manolson offers the viewer an intimate and profound knowledge of the natural world — a trained botanist, she began painting while working at Canada’s National Park system in Alberta, where her office became a de facto art studio. Eventually, her passion and talent led her to study printmaking and painting at one of America’s most prestigious art schools, The Rhode Island School of Design.
On her relationship between art and nature, she says: ‘I see being a naturalist and being a painter as being very much related in that you are looking at an environment closely, looking over time and looking for the details that explain the larger whole.’
Combining abstract and figurative elements, Manolson challenges traditional depictions of nature in art, bringing together precise observations of plants and organic matter and then, through bold and fluid brushstrokes, creating compositions that are both ethereal and grounded. Within this paradox lay the painting’s great allure.
While the artist began her career painting en plein air over twenty years ago, her recent works are now made from recollection and memory wherein she returns to the studio with sketches, objects and ideas. The distance this offers allows the paintings to reflect the entirety of a place rather than portraying any singular scene, in which the artist develops an invented reflection of a landscape.
‘Manolson’s long practice of translating her experience of nature into invented landscapes firmly roots her oeuvre in the 19th Century tradition of Romanticism, when landscape took center stage and became a reflection of emotional and spiritual concepts.’ — Stephanie Buhmann, art critic
Hunter (2019), for example, is typical of the way the artist combines large abstract brushstrokes with intricate details to offer multiple perspectives on a flat plane. The depth of the piece matures as the brushwork flows down the painting, from the suggestion of distant mountains and hills at the top of the composition, down to the greens and yellows of forests and meadows, finishing with a saturated blue and green pool of water circling a cluster of rocks. This fluidity reveals the artist’s skill in visually communicating a story of a place in its entirety whilst also illustrating the way in which all of nature is connected.
Says Freddie Burness, Director of Cadogan Contemporary: ‘We are very privileged to be able to be showing this extraordinary body of paintings. Ilana’s is not just visually beautiful, revealing an immense talent for composition, colour and form, but it also strikes many contemplative notes, inviting the viewer to marvel at the transcendent sublimity of nature, but also its fragility, and their own place within it.’
Chance Encounters will be open from 23 April — 10 May 2019 at Cadogan Contemporary, London. For further information, please visit: www.cadogancontemporary.com/exhibition/ilana-manolson-chance-encounters