Erik den Breejen
Under the Canopy, 2017
acrylic on linen
14h x 16w in
TILLOU FINE ART will present PLANT TEACHER: a group exhibition exploring “the earth’s natural internet” through the interventions of 35 artists working across a variety of mediums. This concept, as explored by American mycologist Paul Stamets, underscores the fundamental role of fungi as an Earth-bound support network functioning simultaneously as a conduit for inter-vegetal communication and a locus of ecological balance. Launching from this point of inquiry, the featured artists have imagined alternative entry points for organic communication that exist beyond the planetary surface and connect species across nature, time, and space.
The artists in this exhibition borrow from belief systems that have prioritized nature as a guiding force in their investigations into the relationship between humanity and the planet, such as mysticism, animism, shamanism, and herbalism. While each practice and perspective is different, they share an interest in seeing, feeling and experiencing an expansive continuum that stretches beyond the confines of what we have been taught to believe is socially acceptable.
The works are organized into four subcategories to accommodate the expansiveness of the topic. These categories include:
ARTIST AS ARCHEOLOGIST: Bringing together works from artists including Claudia Peña Salinas and Rico Gatson, this category considers objects, symbols, and language from knowledge systems underwritten by the natural wisdom of the universe. The works remind us that the past exists as a history both constructed and taught, and as a fundamental, unspoken link to our ancestors. An awareness of these linkages and the complexities within them extends the possibilities of how we can chart the future.
PSYCHEDELIA AND THE SUBCONSCIOUS: Chris Martin, Richard Tinkler and others in this category focus on an individualistic, phenomenological quest for an unmediated connection to the world around us. These artists share an ability to dissolve the expected figure/ground and subject/object relationships, encouraging the mind to see a world beyond the canvas that is in constant flux.
BOTANY AND REPRESENTATION: Works by Matthew F Fisher and Letha Wilson, among others in this category, seek to re-image the natural world by turning traditional modes of representation and classification – such as botanical drawings – on their heads. Oscillating between sweeping color, suggestive shapes, exacting detail, and fluid forms, the artists layer image planes, use non-traditional surfaces, and move freely between representation and abstraction to challenge direct reading in favor of a more subjective, individualistic, and sustained exploration.
MYTHOLOGY AND THE SHAMANIC: The artists in this category, including Tamara Gonzales and Jules de Balincourt, examine the human-constructed architectures and practices of spirituality and allegory. Folding fictions into fact, these multi-layered works entwine meditations on memory, history, divinity, symbolism, contemporary politics, mythology, and temporality.
In the same way that the individual works shift and morph with each viewing, these groupings are loose: they overlap and inform one another and their dynamics become an additional reference to the perpetual flow of nature.
To dive deeper into the intelligence of the natural world and to further explore the reflections presented by the artists, the gallery space will serve as a platform for cross-disciplinary conversations and events occurring for the duration of the exhibition. These events will include a Natural Wisdom exchange circle hosted by journalist, artist, and activist Tansy Kaschak and a cacao ceremony lead by Maestro Manuel Rufino from the Golden Drum community.
In dialogue with the artwork, there will be curiously curated cacti, palmettos, hanging plants and fungi throughout the gallery. Teachers come in many forms, including plants. As American herbalist Rosemary Gladstar wisely states: “the plants have enough spirit to transform our limited vision.”
The artists in this exhibition include Jules de Balincourt, Samantha Bittman, Erik den Breejen, Zach Bruder, Charles Burchfield, Maria Calandra, Dave Choi, Matthew Craven, Matthew F Fisher, Johnston Foster, Rico Gatson, Tamara Gonzales, Langdon Graves, EJ Hauser, Eric Hibit, Ian R Holman, Roxanne Jackson, Robin Kang, Jennifer J Lee, Meg Lipke, Lauren Luloff, Chris Martin, David McBride, Rebecca Morgan, Heidi Norton, Sarah Peters, Javier Piñón, Andrew Prayzner, Claudia Peña Salinas, Kristen Schiele, Adam Parker Smith, Richard Tinkler, Edwina White, Andy Wilhelm, and Letha Wilson.