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Andreas Emenius: Näste

Feb 8 - Apr 6, 2024

Andreas Emenius

Le Fleeur

2023, Oil on Canvas

71 x 55 in. (180.3 x 139.7 cm.)

Shin Gallery is pleased to announce Näste, an exhibition of new paintings by Andreas Emenius at the gallery’s 68 Orchard Street location from February 8 to April 6.

Andreas Emenius’s work explores the forces of life churning beyond our perception. He is interested in the intersection between pragmatic, urban life and the universal animalistic laws that dictate nature and man. Emenius has fixed his critical gaze towards the still life, painting the same subject repeatedly in an attempt to derive its hidden truths. After spending time near Lake Geneva in 2020, Andreas Emenius began to seriously contemplate the fields of flowers outside his window and the source of tension between his dwelling and the wellspring of natural beauty just outside. This contemplation led Emenius to create his latest series of paintings, Näste, named for the Swedish word for bird’s nest.

There is nothing still in Emenius’s still lifes. In them exists a radical contradiction. Emenius wishes to convey “speed and devastation” in his work, two words seldom associated with potted plants or serene landscapes. But it’s not simply the matter of how a flower moves, how it grows in leisurely and imperceptible nanometers or wilts and dies in languished sighs; it is about the movement of time, the respiratory ebb and flow of nature’s chaotic order. Emenius’s Näste pieces emphasize the ephemerality, drama, and holiness of life. His flowers are created and destroyed simultaneously; as the inherent counterweight to growth invariably manifests as decay.

Like a mutant hybrid of Willem de Kooning and Jan Davidsz de Heem, Emenius blends the figurative and serene still life with the manic riptides of color found in abstract expressionism. His choices of color give these pieces a modern edge while paying homage to those pioneer artists who have informed him. He echoes Van Gough’s famed sunflowers, bristling with life but marking their transitory character with noticeable signs of wither. Emenius’s buds are fashioned out of flows and drips and splatters of paint, evoking the flowers true nature: that of abnormalities, sparking oppositions and freak occurrences. The ache of nature’s overgrowth and its submission at the hands of man. Emenius strikes a startlingly formal and emotional range, depicting the flowers as they are, eschewing Jan Davidsz de Heem’s penchant for material symbolism for something more metaphysical and spiritual.

The impression of the vase, present in his flower still lifes, creates a sharp tension and pulls them back from the realm of total abstract expressionism: the frenzy of nature, cut from the fields, now domesticated, their only possible future a wayward and listless death. An undeniable reverence is imbued in each of these pieces. There is a striking physicality in Emenius’s art. His work not only conveys the fluctuations of the flower in vibrant color, but it also illustrates the artist’s own movement while painting. The tenderness or urgency of each brushstroke is felt in sensational detail and globs of paint in impasto leap from the canvas and give these paintings a complex texture. Emenius is an artist trying to match nature’s beauty and brutality. These paintings do not just depict a plant, but the memory of a plant, a life cycle in time-lapse. Emenius has depicted the stages of life superimposed on each other all at once.

Emenius has also included several landscapes, which hum with a chthonic energy. Emenius makes smart use of the negative space of the canvas on pieces such as Michigan Land and Snowfield, letting his forms free-float as if they are blurring in and out of existence. Emenius’ landscapes convey the same temperamentality and chaos as his flowers, but illustrate the more fundamental question of perception and memory. Unknown Landscape (Bird Watching) implies the presence of a bird, but instead depicts the thick brush of its habitat. It is a painting of the potential of seeing a bird, and not of the bird itself. It is also cleverly framed with negative space, giving the impression that the eye is zeroed into a specific patch of foliage. Emenius skillfully distills the essence of his subjects to their primal elements, laying bare the core of nature and prompting contemplation on its intricate interplay with humanity.

Emenius has shown his electrifying and ethereal art in many prominent art institutions including Nikolaj Kunsthal in Copenhagen, Viborg Kunsthal in Viborg, Moderna Museet in Malmö, Schunck Museum in Heerlen, Torrance Art Museum in Los Angeles, Gwangju Biennale in Gwangju, Liljevalchs in Stockholm, HEART Museum in Herning, and Shin Gallery in New York.

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