August 19–November 26, 2023
August 19–November 26, 2023
Garth Greenan Gallery is pleased to announce the gallery’s seventh online viewing room, running concurrently with Wave Hill’s Light from Water: Heidi Howard & Esteban Cabeza de Baca, with Liz Phillips. The exhibition features new works by Heidi Howard and Esteban Cabeza de Baca articulating the interconnectedness of human communities and the natural world. Several of the paintings were created en plein air, and some at Wave Hill itself, taking the striking Aquatic Garden, with its abundant flora and fauna, as inspiration. In the spirit of the exhibition, a number of paintings are the result of collaboration.
The exhibition’s title, Light from Water, draws attention to the optical properties of water, its ability to reflect and refract, but both artists pull from it numerous psychic resonances. In Heidi Howard’s Night Pond (2023), a nude human form paints the water’s surface. The figure’s bilateral symmetry is echoed by a Rorschachian indigo dye pattern that replicates itself in the pond below, and amongst the shoreline lilies above. The work has a mitotic logic of ever dividing symmetries and replication, the logic of life.
Howard’s major foray into painting en plein air began in 2020. Observational portraiture was and is a large part of their practice, and something the pandemic threatened to disrupt. Instead of substituting their living subjects with photographic replicas, Howard and a community of artists began to gather in parks around New York City to paint.
Painting outside has always been central to Esteban Cabeza de Baca's practice. In an increasingly screen-mediated world the immediacy of artists interacting directly with source material is palpable. Colors are more vivid. Forms and structures are rendered lightly, like fleeting formations of energy. It’s fitting to compare the coloration and energy to that of the Impressionists, who similarly emphasized direct experience over working from staged settings in the studio.
In Break onto the other side, (2023), Esteban Cabeza de Baca separates vaporous clouds from their aqueous reflections with a thin column of firmament. The artist, of Indigenous Chicano heritage, recasts the practice of landscape painting—once a surveying tool of settlers and colonizers. In this work, the mountainous horizon is tilted at a disorienting 90 degrees. Mnemonic fragments of other landscapes are kaleidoscopically superimposed, confounding Cartesian single-point perspective and interrogating the dialectical relationships between colonial acts and their critiques.
In 2019, Cabeza de Baca started experimenting with dyeing fabric and canvas with cochineal, cactus-eating scale insects that are dried and pulverized to produce scarlet, crimson, orange, and other tints of pigments in Mexico. Like Howard’s indigo dye, the pigment emphasizes a direct linkage to the natural landscape.
While the two artists maintain individual practices, in recent years, the pair have begun to collaborate. In many ways, the collaborations are natural extensions of their work. Howard’s portraits of family members and loved ones are redolent with intimacy and connection, while Cabeza de Baca’s works emphasize our connectedness with the natural world—its history and our own. In works like Braiding Sweetgrass (2022) and Iris and Spider (2023), their two practices interlace. The works in the presentation are characterized by interconnectedness of people and place.
Light from Water: Heidi Howard and Esteban Cabeza de Baca, with Liz Phillips is organized by Gabriel de Guzman, Director of Arts and Chief Curator, with Rachel Raphaela Gugelberger, Curator of Visual Arts. The exhibition will be on view at Wave Hill, 4900 Independence Ave, the Bronx, New York, from August 19–November 26, 2023.
For information about available works, please contact Garth Greenan Gallery at firstname.lastname@example.org or (212) 929-1351.