Gregory Euclide Literally Captures Nature

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Gregory Euclide has always intertwined his paintings (elaborately rendered traditional, yet graphic landscapes, then crumpled!) with natural elements, but his latest show at David B. Smith Gallery in Denver

takes things even further. For some pieces, Euclide pours pools of blue resin onto woodland floor areas of Colorado like a chemical spill, then lifts it up, literally capturing a piece of nature before he begins his elaborate process. Check out our favorite pieces and videos of Euclide capturing nature below.

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Capture #3 from David B. Smith on Vimeo.

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More About the Show from the Gallery:

Gregory Euclide’s unique and intriguing sculptural works explore the way in which we experience nature, and they challenge the viewer to engage in a dialogue about the contradiction between perceptions of idealized landscapes and real experience. Through an unusually creative use of both natural and synthetic materials, Euclide transports the viewer into the world that he has created. The gallery has provided video views of the work in an attempt to provide Internet viewers with a better understanding of its depth and complexity.

Euclide explores the difficulty of escaping the cultural lens from which we view nature. Images from traditional landscape paintings, wildlife documentaries and travel guides construct our cultural expectations and define how we view land. Euclide’s work explores the conflicts between these images of idealized, picturesque views and the desire to truly experience nature as it is. The pieces in this exhibit contain a mixture of painted images shaped into sculptures with imagery drawn from memory, photo transfers based on traditional nature photography, abstract areas of raw paint, and actual artifacts such as pine needles and moss. The use of materials that are non-biodegradable, such as foam that has been weathered by nature, further emphasizes the invasiveness of the commercial world in which we live. It is this tension between the realistic and the representational, between the pristine and the changed, that makes the work so engaging. Pools of thick, blue liquid paint mimic the properties of the rivers and streams they are used to represent, calling into question the illusion of representational art. Similarly, the exaggerated folds of thick watercolor paper transform the flat, framed image of the traditional landscape into a dimensional topography with many points of view. The three-dimensional forms of these pieces-painted on both sides and containing hidden vignettes and small treasures-encourage the kind of exploration and excitement that might be found in experiencing nature rather than in viewing a traditional picture, further mixing and confusing the untouched and the idealized.

The Capture series, first introduced in this exhibition, references Robert Smithson and the tradition of landscape architecture started in America by Fredrick Law Olmsted. Smithson created works of land art where he poured glue on the surface of the earth. Olmstead completely fabricated the pastoral, picturesque, and formal landscapes of New York City’s Central Park from an inhospitable swamp.

Euclide takes paint and pours it on the land, capturing the local flora and terrain in the paint. On top of the paint, Euclide builds a diorama, depicting the concept of the idealized landscape framework. What the viewer sees in these pieces is more than any one concept-it is the interaction and interconnection between the actual land, the cultural idealization of the landscape, and the art-making process itself. Through this tension, these pieces address the issues of regeneration, recycling, growth and decay, the synthetic and the organic, and the very cycles driven by nature.

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