April Gornik: Paintings & Drawings

Submitted by Evelyn Kiefer on Thu, 03/23/2006 - 01:30.

“April Gornik: Paintings and Drawings”an exhibition going on now through June 4th

at the Allen Memorial Art Museum in Oberlin http://www.oberlin.edu/allenart/exhibitions/paintings.html, is important news in the art world and reason for NEO to be proud. This touring exhibition is a mid-career retrospective organized by Dede Young, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College. Oberlin is the last stop on the tour. Neo art lovers have reason to celebrate April Gornik's success. She was born in Cleveland, and studied at the Cleveland Institute of Art from 1971-75 before finishing her B.F.A. at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in 1976. She has lived in New York since the 70s. Her landscapes are in countless Museum Collections, including the Cleveland Museum of Art. Regional pride aside, few art exhibitions are so visually rewarding. Landscape is perhaps the most accessible genre, but Gornik updates the genre and the appeal of her paintings seems to lie in her ability to address the concerns of our century and at least temporarily sooth modern viewers anxieties.

Gornik's landscape paintings are large, but not as vast as the limitless vistas she offers to the imagination. Most depict soaring trees, vast horizons, and serene reflections on bodies of water in vague, unnamed places. The viewer might think he recognizes the California coast, a river valley in Asia, or a row of poplars in France, but titles rarely give anything away, allowing each viewer to recall his own experiences. In most works Gornik has erased all evidence of the hand of man; there are no bridges, buildings, roads, or power lines – such a rare sight anywhere in the world in the 21st -century -- making them a slightly surreal experience and a powerfully seductive retreat.

Gornik's paintings and charcoal drawings are equal in their technical perfection and compositions in each medium are equally enchanting. There is so little evidence of her hand in her finished works, the viewer might forget that he is not looking at an actual landscape, but an artist's creation. Gornik has a great website that includes a biography and many images of her paintings, prints and drawings. It appears that the last several years have been very prolific ones for her, with great consistency in style and subject matter. The last sentence of the artist's statement from her website sums up what one sees at the exhibition:

“I am an artist that values, above all, the ability of art to move me emotionally and psychically. I make art that makes me question, that derives its power from being vulnerable to interpretation, that is intuitive, that is beautiful.”

Above all, April Gornik's works are beautiful.