Magazine article Artforum International

Adam Straus: Nohra Haime Gallery. (New York)

Magazine article Artforum International

Adam Straus: Nohra Haime Gallery. (New York)

Article excerpt

The title of Adam Straus's recent exhibition of landscape paintings, "Sublimis Interruprus," suggests that something has gone radically amiss in a moment of great import. What is interrogated in this case is nature at its most magnificent. A dozen works, portraying wide-open spaces and elemental terrains, suggest that, as in Poussin, there's death even in paradise. In Straus's landscapes, this implicitly funereal idea is usually personified by a minute human presence. In the witty An Early Spring, 2002, as painterly drips represent thawing ice, a long thin pole with a small red flag marks oil supplies for future explorers. The pole's figurelike presence serves also as a repoussoir, but in many works all we are given is space in its utter vastness.

In the landscapes that have no human markers, huge lead frames suggest a certain morbidity. More, even, than a figure, these grim supports indicate a deadening inertia in the landscape, a poisonous undertow in the empty space. The fog in Montauk Morning Dune in Fog, 2002, is not entirely natural: Pollution appears to be the culprit. Again and again, in a variety of subtle ways, Straus calls attention to nature's approaching end. His point is not that death haunts nature but that nature itself is dying. …

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