R O U N D W E A T H E R
SplitNature is Round Weather’s first two-person exhibition, showcasing recent and time-tested artworks by Tanja Geis and Catherine Mackey. It’s also the gallery’s first show since the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2022 report on impacts of the global climate crisis, which spells out how humanity has split nature like the atom and our future is defined by the destructive energy and creative opportunity released by this rending. Geis focuses more on fallout in the natural world, Mackey more on fallout in the built environment, yet both use fine-tuned draftsmanship and gutsy gesture to render and resist anthropoactive decay.
Catherine Mackey’s paintings caress architecture’s scars. She describes her primary imagistic obsession as “the beauty to be found in architectural decrepitude” and “structural capitulation to the forces of nature.” Her crumbling city buildings, corroding sea walls, and swooning bygone barns are sumptuously painted atop and amid layers of torn posters. These found collage elements serve as another way to kiss scars, and their brilliant arrangement within Mackey’s overarching compositions can echo architectural details, chromatic concerns, and emotional subtleties. Often most prevalent in her skies and waters, the advertising posters speak of our impact on the atmosphere and ocean. The posters' rips also underscore the human and add visual and literal texture to paint much like the angularly modulated light Mackey portrays in the stunningly dark, grand Sea Wall with Faucet. She speaks of the posters as narrative. Their tears and clipped words speak in poetry. Absent human presences. Loud secretive voices. Stories told by– Half-utterances and repeated caresses are not only sensual. They’re responses to incredible pain and loss. Mackey’s paintings mourn what they remake. The beauty of her work grants us a thrilling sadness. They will serve us well as more and more people realize we have no choice–other than letting our atmosphere turn into one globe-shrouding mushroom cloud–no choice but to join together to remake the world.
Tanja Geis splits nature down its middle and doubles one half, transfixing and transporting the viewer with witchy symmetry. Fearless yet graceful in media ranging from charcoal to paint to ink to sea debris to mud, Geis’s work gathered in SplitNature stresses symmetrical fluency across them all. Her patterning magic is such that the sculpture series Imprinting transforms handfuls of ocean mud into new lifeforms or deep sea curses or ventricular blessings. Reminiscent of how human cells are now laced with plastic chemicals, the Littoral Daemon paintings in mud pigment depict oil-based waste and greenhouse-harmed creatures as fused with our being. Bits of shoreline debris glom into skeletal totems and x-rays of our psychic condition. Symmetry is often said to be an ingredient of beauty, and Geis can also ingeniously employ said perceptual tendency to evoke dread, paralysis, and heartrending sorrow as in her See Bird series of mirrored ink drawings of starved murres. These cyanotypes of dead birds conjure Rilke’s notion that “beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror.” Yet, especially as a series, the works take wing into what Geis calls “a form of ritual transformation and reanimation.” She can even find a pulse in acrylics and paint with (not merely on) plastic debris: see the optically demanding and rewarding series Surface Tension. Many contemporary artists now work with trash from the ocean–as well they should–but is there another doing so with as much formal invention and spiritual rigor as Geis?
30% of proceeds from SplitNature will be donated to the climate crisis mitigation work of nonprofits Honor the Earth, Oil Change International, and Sunrise Movement. Besides adding Tanja Geis or Catherine Mackey’s formidable and nuanced vision to one’s immediate environment, an art purchase through Round Weather is a concrete, strategic, and expert-informed attempt to avoid mutual assured destruction between the man-made and natural worlds.