Bernice Steinbaum Gallery presents Mark Messersmith

From May 14 through Jun 4, 2011.

Mark Messersmith. Summer Respite. 2009. Oil on canvas, carved wooden elements, mixed media predella, 65” x 82”, detail
Mark Messersmith. Summer Respite. 2009. Oil on canvas, carved wooden elements, mixed media predella, 65” x 82”, detail
Mark Messersmith’s works are complex paintings of the Florida landscape. They are narratives that tell the story of destructive human intrusion upon the Eden-like serenity and beauty of Florida’s natural ecosystem. These works are not a specific place in Florida, but rather they are everywhere in Florida and beyond. The landscapes Messersmith paints still exist somewhere just beyond the urban sprawl, shopping malls, and trailer parks.

Often we see, hanging in front of the paintings, carved figures – birds suspended in flight, butterflies, flowers or a handmade ladder. These objects give his paintings depth and the illusion of space and density. The artist hand carves the frames, sculptural objects, and the predella boxes at the bottom of the paintings. These boxes embellish the story depicted on the canvas and progress from right to left evolving from innocence to corruption, suggesting the ominousness of our ecosystems.

Not unlike Botticelli (1445-1510) and the Pre-Raphaelites, Messersmith employs an intense color palette, which emphasizes the drama of his subject matter. Depicting the struggle for survival, and the inherent violence in that struggle, Messersmith does not ignore the human element of the equation. The ominous glow of logging trucks pierces the night scenes of many of his canvases, though he is careful to keep the focus on wildlife rather than people. Rather, Messersmith uses dogs as a representation of humankind; the bridge between domesticity and predatory instinct.

In contemplating these paintings, we realize that although we are at the top of the food chain, we still require those below us in order to survive, as they will require us to survive. Messersmith’s work is about ideas – myths and facts, good and evil, life and death, human versus nature.

Shifting Nature, A Project Room by Juan Carlos Zaldivar

Shifting Nature consists of rotoscoped elements of nature. Insects and flowers exist in a dark room at the gallery and only become visible as the viewer holds out their hands to catch the floating images. In addition to these seemingly invisible video projections that the viewer must discover and catch, the viewer is invited to wear headphones and to listen to bi-aural sound recordings of nature that have been acoustically “fitted” inside the room, offering a non-synchronous surround sound experience. Shifting Nature is a transmedia project that will culminate with the production of a feature film.  

Bernice Steinbaum Gallery
3550 North Miami Avenue
Miami, FL 33127

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