In her new exhibition,The Near Side of the Moon, Gabriella Klein presents two series of paintings that were created over the past year and a half. As in Klein’s earlier work direct observation of her immediate domestic environment is her starting point. The viewer’s first impression, however, is of distant and detached monumental scenes.
In her last exhibit On the Road the paintings appeared, at first glance, to represent desolate, sublime, and wild landscapes, but a longer gaze revealed that the setting was a bed and that the landscapes were made of bedding, sheets, and fabric. In the two series of paintings that comprise The Near Side of the Moon the kitchen is the setting and becomes the stage upon which the drama takes place.
In one series a mountainous landscape of rocks and cliffs, canyons and rivers, becomes an artificial otherworldly environment. Klein, like a director or a wizard, has conjured these images from still lifes she arranges from everyday banal materials: sheets of aluminum foil, crumpled up and folded. The large scale of the work and Klein’s unique way of painting intensify the small scenes on the table until they assume a monumental scale. This way of painting consists of, on the one hand, matter-of-fact observing–distant, cold, and analytical–and, on the other, an expressive and manipulated look. Reflections of light, objects, and color abound, as well as the dull metallic grayness of the aluminum foil: all of which is transformed into stains and lines, rhythmic shapes of colorful patchworks in brushstrokes that build and dismantle.
In the second series the actors of the stage are revealed to be stainless steel pots and pans, in some of which the artist herself is reflected in classic nude poses. In these paintings domestic objects come apart, contours melt, everything drips and dissolves, and familiar scale is confused as the nude figures shrink and the reflective surfaces magnify in size. The solid intimate world of the interior of the kitchen loses its certainty.