An Ocean of Light
Burning in Water - New York, 317 10th Avenue
April 12 - May 26, 2018
Burning in Water - New York is pleased to present An Ocean of Light, an exhibition of new work by Brooklyn-based artist Eric LoPresti. The exhibition encompasses several types of media, including large paintings on linen, mixed media works on paper, and altered digital photographs.
Employing a range of approaches to his theme, Eric LoPresti constructs a multifaceted depiction of the American West that scrutinizes our physical environment within the contexts of both the expansive narrative of the atomic age and the artist’s own personal history. While the globally transformative story of the development and testing of nuclear weapons suffuses these works, LoPresti’s visual field shifts constantly and seamlessly from the micro- to the macroscopic. As with the infinitely elusive location of a particle in quantum mechanics, LoPresti presents a vision of the American West whose physical characteristics and historical associations defy any attempt to be perceived and comprehended from a fixed viewpoint.
"Most nuclear test sites are underground, even the ones in North Korea. As a culture, we really don't have a good image of what that is. As a painter, when something so important has no visualization in the cultural imagination, that's where I feel like I can step in and bring something to the table." -Eric LoPresti
Video by Reuters 1/26/2018
-Works by Eric LoPresti are on view in the group exhibition Field Projects Presents: Pool Party at C24 Gallery from July 11 to August 21, 2019.
-Collaborative works by LoPresti and Lisa Schilling are featured in Forced Collaboration: Couples Edition at The Midnight Society, an artist-run curatorial project in Lyme, Connecticut. The show, curated by Field Projects Director Jacob Rhodes, is on view June 15 - September 13, 2019, by appointment.
-Yale University’s Spring 2019 Letters Journal includes featured and cover art by Eric LoPresti. The publication cites the artist’s “negotiations of war and trauma, and man and God through splashes of color in apocalyptic desert landscapes.”
-LoPresti’s art is featured in Gardens and Human Agency in the Anthropocene, recently published by Routledge. LoPresti’s works accompany a scholarly essay by historian Jaume Valentines-Álvarez titled “The atom in the garden and the apocalyptic fungi / A tale on a global nuclearscape (with artworks and bird-songs).” Contributing authors and artists “focus on ways of rethinking the garden and its role in contemporary society, using it as a crossover platform between nature, science and technology.”
-LoPresti’s multi-channel video installation Center-Surround was screened at the Reinventing Civil Defense Workshop at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey. The workshop, funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, ran from September 9 - 10, 2019, with the goal of “develop[ing] new communication strategies regarding nuclear risk that have high potential to resonate with a public audience.”
-SUPERBLOOM, a solo exhibition of artworks by Eric LoPresti examining the post-Cold War landscape of the American Southwest, ran from October 4, 2018 to January 12, 2019 at New Mexico State University Art Gallery, accompanied by a series of related performances and events. The exhibition included oil paintings, large-format watercolors, digital works, and a multi-channel video, a new medium for the artist.
To make the legacy of nuclear blasts more accessible to the average person, Brooklyn-based artist Eric LoPresti tried something unusual and symbolic: He filmed his Aikido dojo members reenacting every known nuclear blast as hand-to-hand combat moves.
"I wanted to make it visceral," LoPresti said. "Every time someone's thrown, there's this slight slapping noise on the ground. That's a way of taking a fall — a potentially lethal fall — in a non-lethal and a safer way. It's called a breakfall, and that sound reminded me of the sound of a sped-up nuclear explosion."
The art exhibit plays three different videos on three screens in sync. One displays a colored tile with the name and date of a nuclear explosion, while a second screen displays a supercut of the Aikido sparring that's coordinated to mirror those detonations. A third screen displays a grid-style visualization of all the test names and dates.
…"I would submit this is a better way to think about nuclear weapons than a mushroom cloud," he said. "Nuclear weapons are one of those very strange things, which is both omnipresent, everywhere, and also sort of impossible to visualize in a concrete way. Because most of it happens invisibly."
With "Center-Surround," LoPresti hopes to make nuclear weapons something anyone can understand as part of US history. He said he's watched people go into his exhibit and relax, only to shudder as they learn about what the numbers and their Aikido representations mean.
"But there wasn't that fear, an amnesia of terror," he said — and quashing that fear is what he believes is a vital step to doing something about nukes.
“My paintings incorporate images of the American nuclear west in order to establish a sense of scale vs our environment and the wave of technology with which we are transforming our planet. But I often disrupt that imagery with formal elements like geometric lines, gradients and color chips. By juxtaposing abstract and representational components, I’m pushing my paintings into a conceptual space where the viewer can consider the ostensibly terrifying subject matter at a remove, and ask themselves: is there a way to see this differently?” -LoPresti
New York City-based artist Eric LoPresti will have a solo exhibition at New Mexico State University Art Gallery, with an opening reception from 6–7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 4.
This exhibition examines the complicated effects the Cold War and nuclear testing have had on the Southwest American landscape and the global psyche. Comprised of oil paintings, large-format watercolors, digital works and a multi-channel video (a new medium for the artist), “Superbloom” will be accompanied by a series of performances.
“LoPresti’s oil paintings and watercolors include epic views of gigantic nuclear test sites and the scarred desert landscapes of the American west, counterbalanced by intimate depictions of cacti and desert flowers, symbols of ecology and resilience. The pairing invokes a yin-yang of beauty and destruction, trauma and aesthetics,” said Marisa Sage, director of the University Art Gallery.
…“Sited a mere 97 miles from Trinity, the location of the first atomic bomb, ‘Superbloom’ outlines an expansive framework within which viewers can meditate on two increasingly relevant antipodes of human experience: the quest for aesthetic expression and the threat of global apocalypse,” said Sage. “Following in the painterly tradition of the apocalyptic sublime, LoPresti explores how our lives are shaped by trauma and aesthetics making works about deserts, nuclear weapons and color.”
Brimming with color and landscape, annihilation and rebirth, LoPresti’s work addresses such topics in a whole new way. Addressing the issue of nuclear weapons and the threat of cataclysmic destruction while also reflecting on the natural world and its essence makes Superbloom incredibly stimulating and refreshing.
…In his upcoming solo exhibition, “An Ocean of Light,” LoPresti explores the legacy of nuclear development and testing in the United States as well as the often overlooked desert landscapes where this testing occurs.
…In some ways, the desert acts as a foil to the nuclear; the raw naturalism of the terrain emphasizes the artificiality of the man-made weapons. Yet these subjects also share certain similarities — they’ve both become overlooked aspects of the American cultural and physical landscape.
But just as LoPresti critiques the oversimplification of the nuclear narrative, so does he counter stereotypes of the desert, so often misunderstood to be empty and lifeless. By contrast, LoPresti’s pieces celebrate the unique desert landscapes of California and New Mexico, accentuating their ecological diversity with vibrant detail and color — LoPresti’s not-so-secret fascination.
Several of the paintings feature rectangles of color which break up the otherwise naturalistic scene which LoPresti calls “color chips” — a device he’s experimented with in previous exhibitions.
“I like seeing disrupted imagery where it’s clear it’s been mediated, annotated, marked up and commented on,” he admits.
And, if commenting and annotating reminds you of social media, you’re on the right track. LoPresti believes that learning the story of nuclear weapons can provide a useful blueprint for other negotiations with technology, warfare and the environment on a mass scale — from Instagram and Twitter to global warming and cyber attacks.
LoPresti believes a critical understanding of these weapons is our best chance at a safer future while these weapons exist.
“I would be happy in a world without nuclear weapons,” the painter adds. “But given that they seem like they’re sticking around, we should understand them and take a closer look.”
Burning in Water - New York is presenting “An Ocean of Light” by Brooklyn-based painter Eric LoPresti. The exhibition encompasses several types of work, including large paintings on linen, mixed media works on paper and altered digital photographs.
Eric LoPresti “An Ocean of Light” at Burning in Water
Eric LoPresti (b. 1971, Denver, CO) makes works of art that examine the imposition of technology upon the environment and the aftermath of the Cold War. His dramatic landscapes juxtapose abstract elements with representations of the vast deserts of the American West, exploring relationships between science, identity, history, and conflict. Following in the painterly tradition of the apocalyptic sublime, LoPresti’s artistic practice explores how trauma and beauty shape our lives.
LoPresti earned a BA in Cognitive Science from the University of Rochester and an MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art. Past awards include the Faber Birren Foundation Award, the Walentas/Two Trees Studio Grant, and the Miami Young Painters Award. Recent solo exhibitions include Superbloom at New Mexico State University; Blooms at Elizabeth Houston Gallery (New York); Blueprint Paintings at the University of Rochester; and No Blue Skies at Kunsthalle Galapagos (New York). His solo exhibition Test Site was exhibited at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Atomic Test Museum (Las Vegas). Recent group shows include Plural at the University of Nevada Las Vegas and Site at Youngstown State University.
LoPresti has been interviewed on international video by Reuters and the Washington Post, and his work has received mentions in The New York Times, Art in America, Artforum, NY Arts, ArtLog, Nature, The Denver Post, The Seattle Times, Vegas Seven Magazine, and the Village Voice.