Elliott Green at John Davis Gallery, January 9–January 31, 2016
A hop, skip and a jump north of New York City, along the scenic Hudson River, this show, in the town of Hudson, offered more than a pleasant winter getaway in early 2016. The first exhibition in some years of Elliott Green’s recent paintings of infinite landscapes—or rather, mindscapes—was as visually stunning as it was intellectually rewarding. Characteristic of the new work, the large painting Mammatus shows what appears to be a vast mountain range, like the high Himalayas, with snowy peaks visible in the far distance, and icy rivers in the foreground.
Rather than depicting any real mountains, however, Green’s rocky vista seems emblematic of anything insurmountable or unapproachable. A surrealist touch in the painting, in terms of technique as well a imagery, corresponds to certain works by Max Ernst. In Green’s composition, a large, rainbow-colored horizontal band in the upper left, like a single bravura brushstroke, is a purely abstract device that breaks the illusion of the infinite landscape, reminding the viewer that this, after all, is just paint-on-canvas. It also underscores the fact that while the visual sensation of the painting may be appreciated by all viewers, the mental and physical challenges of its creation were the artist’s alone.
Written by David Ebony