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The New Mexican's Weekly Magazine of Arts, Entertainment & Culture Friday, July 25, 2014

Where the wild things are: Contemporary Naturalism

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Posted: Friday, May 23, 2014 5:00 am | Updated: 11:29 pm, Thu May 29, 2014.

Faithful depictions of everyday subjects define 19th-century realism and the related naturalist movement — born, in part, of new insights into science and biology and an interest in a Darwinian view of nature. Realism in the 19th century is distinct from naturalism in that it often had a political or social component, whereas naturalism was chiefly concerned with accurately reproducing the world of nature. Contemporary Naturalism, an exhibit on view at Gerald Peters Gallery, shows how artists working within the genre have transformed naturalism by embracing contemporary techniques, mediums, and styles. Eight artists are featured in the show. Some are landscape artists. Some are abstractionists. Others, such as Vermont-based artist Susan Brearey, focus on animal imagery. 

Brearey’s work is distinct from most wildlife art for its ambiguous settings and its lack of photorealistic details. Her work is gestural, minimalist, and impressionistic but always naturalistic. There is an intimate feeling in her paintings and drawings, often depicting solitary beasts in monochrome. “What I’m trying to evoke is a sense of the animal in the wild,” she told Pasatiempo. “It’s more about its presence rather than the details of its eyelashes. I’m interested in the presence as the strongest component within a natural space, one that’s disappearing as much as it’s appearing.” Contemporary Naturalism also includes work by Patricia Beggins, Ewoud de Groot, John Felsing, Steve Kestrel, Ron Kingswood, Les Perhacs, and Mary Roberson.

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