Amy Bird 01.17.07
AUTHOR: MICOL HEBRON 01.06.07-02.03.07 Milo Gallery
Painter Amy Bird’s first solo exhibition in Los Angeles features three bodies of work, each influenced by graphic design and sporting a pastel, natural-tone palette. The smooth brushwork, crisp figurative contours, and fluid gradients in these paintings recall the oneiric, horizonless landscapes of Yves Tanguy. Seven blue or green monochromatic paintings in the first room emulate overexposed photographs in which detail is blown out, leaving only the flat silhouettes of figures in landscapes. In Surfers #1, 2004, surfers and beachgoers, some of the inordinate number of locals who mysteriously don’t need day jobs, bask in Southern California’s endless summer. Though aesthetically congruous with Surfers #1, paintings like Strawberry Pickers #3, 2005, feature another iconic yet much less idyllic figure from the regional landscape: the day laborer. In Strawberry Pickers #6, 2005, contours of migrant workers bent over in the field gracefully (if somewhat academically) evoke Jean-Francois Millet’s The Gleaners, 1857. The perverse dichotomy of the Los Angeles population runs counter to Bird’s consistent aesthetic, and class divisions are amplified through the juxtaposition of leisure and labor classes. A hunched-over figure combing for shells in the sand parallels one hunched over while picking strawberries. The back room of the gallery features seven paintings of tents in a forest. Inspired by the summer-camp ambience of Bird’s alma mater, the Thatcher School in Ojai, these paintings are equally meticulous in their design and present a Jorge Pardo–meets–John Muir impression of the transcendental woods. The darker palette and conspicuous absence of figures positions these works as a contemplative space of reprieve from the city—or the crop field—in which to consider the how and why of daily life and one’s relationship to the environment.