In “Long Summer,” which was informed by Bialke’s time in the Adirondacks during the first summer of the pandemic, there are only three paintings that feature people. In Charmed Life (2020), a young woman sleeps in bed, loomed over by a tree as blue as a flame of pure oxygen. The same blue hue reappears in the trees in Three Sisters (2021) and Three Seasons (2021), and in the body of the figure in Two Augusts in a Row (2021), who sits alone at a window, gazing at the forest beyond.
In Two of a Kind (2021), a woman stands to the left of a giant tree and stares, as if rapt, at its monumental trunk. These two living beings—one with bark; the other, skin—share a glowing shade of pale gold. In the real world, neither could shine in such a way, but through the painting, Bialke asks: Which one is emanating the light, and which is absorbing it? The scene has a disquieting stillness, denuded of realism, without dirt, plants, or mulch. Some obscure magic is at work in the land. Smoothing away the grit of detail, Bialke gives us environments too alien to exploit.