“Judith Amdur and Marina Moevs at the San Bernardino County Museum”
…Moevs’ paintings disturb at first glance. Nominally landscapes, they might better be defined as landscapes of the psyche (a kind of Southern Gothic psyche at that). Fires break out in buildings or beyond distant hills, a wave crashes over a house, a black cat crosses the path. These sinister images are softly rendered in dark tones, predominantly gray/green, over a black ground. Black lines or crevices run up the painting’s centers and cast doubt onto the illusion of the landscape images behind – canceling out their reality. Such symbolic negation heightens ambiguity and allows for a kind of interchangeability of viewer and viewed. As the artist puts it “The landscape is the crevice or tear and the frame. It is also our persons and everything animate or inanimate. To understand that we are the landscape requires that we reinterpret ourselves, or world, and our place in the world.” This metaphoric annihilation of the human spectator, while using different means, arrives at almost the same ends as the Burkean Sublime.
For both Amdur and Moevs, it is memory, recollected and mediated by art, rather than formal or technical innovation that becomes the means of achieving their ends. Narrative or psychological depth in their work is privileged over what Salle called “the continual manipulation of the surface of recognition.” Sharing one’s own powerful experiences need not limit the currency of art; but, on the contrary, as history has shown, guarantees connection to others.
© 2016 Marina Moevs
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