Sperone Westwater is pleased to announce Alexis Rockman: New Mexico Field Drawings, the artist’s third solo show with the gallery, featuring a group of works that were recently exhibited at SITE Santa Fe in the exhibition Future Shock. By comparison with Rockman’s epic paintings, these New Mexico field drawings represent a quieter, more delicate side of the artist’s career-long study of flora and fauna, spanning from ancient life forms to future potential creatures evolving amid growing climate change.
“These birds, mammals, insects, fish, and plants are in motion, passing through our consciousness,” writes art critic Lucy Lippard in a catalogue of the drawings published by SITE Santa Fe. “In real life, we may have barely glimpsed them, below or above us, although the ways that they pass in Rockman’s drawings—a furtive coyote, a pronghorn in flight, a roadrunner rushing by—explode our imaginations.” Based in ardent activism as well as extensive scientific research, the New Mexico drawings focus on life forms that are, or were, native to the region, using pigments derived from the very soil that surrounds and sustains them.
To support his research, Rockman and SITE Santa Fe enlisted the aid of experts from organizations like the Department of Agriculture, the Institute of American Indian Arts, and the New Mexico State Forestry Division, as well as the state historian, a Native American botanist, and a Pueblo artist. The drawings’ subjects range from massive creatures such as bison and the dinosaur Apatosaurus to the New Mexican Meadow Jumping Mouse and the Chiricahua Leopard Frog. They also represent endangered fauna such as the Holy Ghost ipomopsis. They have a parallel goal to his larger works, of which he has said, “Like memento mori, my paintings tap memories of the past while offering a window onto the future as we witness the existence of so many creatures and landscapes slipping away.”
On view at the Chicago Cultural Center is Alexis Rockman: The Great Lakes Cycle, a major survey, organized by the Grand Rapids Art Museum, of large-scale paintings and watercolors, as well as field drawings, of the Great Lakes. The paintings result from extensive study of these vast bodies of water, national treasures that hold twenty percent of the Earth’s fresh water. On view in Chicago through 1 October 2018 after opening at the Grand Rapids Art Museum, the exhibition will travel to institutions in the Great Lakes region: the Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland (19 October 2018 – 27 January 2019); Haggerty Museum of Art of Marquette University, Milwaukee (8 February ¬¬– 19 May 2019); Weisman Art Museum, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis (5 October 2019 – 5 January 2020); and the Flint Institute of Arts (9 May – 16 August 2020).
Born in 1962 in New York, where he lives and works, Alexis Rockman has depicted a darkly surreal vision of the collision between civilization and nature – often apocalyptic scenarios on a monumental scale – for over three decades. Notable solo museum exhibitions include “Alexis Rockman: Manifest Destiny” at the Brooklyn Museum (2004), which traveled to several institutions including the Wexner Center for the Arts (2004) and the Rhode Island School of Design (2005). In 2010, the Smithsonian American Art Museum organized “Alexis Rockman: A Fable for Tomorrow,” a major touring survey of his paintings and works on paper. Concurrent with Rockman’s 2013 exhibition at Sperone Westwater, the Drawing Center mounted “Drawings from Life of Pi,” featuring the artist’s collaboration with Ang Lee on the award-winning film “Life of Pi.” Rockman’s work is represented in many museum collections, including the Baltimore Museum of Art; Brooklyn Museum; Grand Rapids Art Museum; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; New Orleans Museum of Art; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Smithsonian American Art Museum; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; and Whitney Museum of American Art.