Galerie D’Este is pleased to present Un mythe immaculé, the gallery’s third solo exhibition of recent works by painter Andy Curlowe. Upon learning that one hundred years ago his family’s beautiful and thickly wooded property in Vermont had once been clear-cut for lumber and reduced to a field of stumps, the artist struggled to reconcile this image with his own understanding and internal narrative of the American wilderness. Research introduced Curlowe to a far more complicated history of this wilderness, one which includes historical misrepresentation of Native American peoples who populated, farmed, and hunted the land before the first European settlers set foot on American soil.
19th and 20th century conservation efforts have perpetuated the myth of a pristine American wilderness in well-intentioned attempts to respond to and heal the land from the effects of clear-cutting and industrialization. Nonetheless, this myth has simultaneously and (assumedly) inadvertently oversimplified the history of indigenous cultures who inhabited the same lands that conservationists seek to protect. A more nuanced narrative reflects that indigenous peoples altered the landscape in various ways for millennia, such as through intentional fire-setting and the cultivation of anthropogenic forests.
Regarding humankind as an integral and historically impactful element of a larger complex environment may leave us with far more questions than answers. Although this ambiguity can be unsettling, Curlowe calls upon us to be aware and introspective of our history and impact on a world that he affirms to be exponentially approaching dire, irreversible and detrimental change. Un mythe immaculé juxtaposes real and imagined human impact upon our natural world, strives to understand and balance disparate truths through historical and imagined narratives, and evokes conversation.
Born in 1984 in Schenectady, New York, Andy Curlowe studied at the Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, Massachusetts. Following his bachelor's degree in visual arts, he moved to Cleveland, Ohio. He has participated in numerous exhibitions in the United States, and in 2013 received the CPAC Creative Workforce Fellowship. In 2014, he made his debut at the international contemporary art fair Art Toronto. His work was received with great enthusiasm by the Canadian and international public, and he was subsequently featured in the SOLO section of the fair in 2015.