No Blue Skies

His latest exhibition closed days ago at the Brooklyn-based Kunsthalle Galapagos, but we still love the ninth and former solo-exhibition ‘No Blue Skies’ by New York City-based artist Eric LoPresti, which took place at the same gallery little over a year ago. The artist’s abstract landscapes are fascinating investigations into the ‘apocalyptic sublime’. Whether rendering nuclear test sites, aerial views of the scarred desert of eastern Washington State where he grew up, or ominous undisclosed explosions across a region’s expanse, LoPresti’s environments are ones of man-made disruption. In the paintings, LoPresti continues his use of the color field gradient to represent another landscape in transition. With as the main eye-catcher a 15-foot canvas of an ominous dust cloud, ‘No Blue Skies’ presents the terrifying, exhilarating moment when the shock of circumstance blinds us to both past and future.

Eric LoPresti was born and raised in the desert-like terrain of eastern Washington state. The economic base of his hometown of Richland was the Hanford Site, a plutonium production facility established in 1945 as part of the Manhattan Project, among other things responsible for the productions of the atomic bomb that exploded on Nagasaki. Growing up in the area left its sincere mark on LoPresti as he states: “My aesthetics were really formed when I was living in the desert,” referring to the treeless stretches of dry land on the Columbia River Plateau, where Richland lies. And although the area is very monotone the artist sees and saw all the color he uses in his work directly there.

The colors there are very subtle, and you have to kind of be tuned in to the misty sort of pinks, browns, and yellows, but I’ve grown to see them.

Based in spirit on the collaborative and experimental kunsthalle model found in Europe, Kunsthalle Galapagos, which is somewhat of LoPresti’s base for exhibition of work, is run and curated by a group of volunteer artists and curators. Striving to be a multidisciplinary artist-centric space that exhibits new visually and intellectually engaging work, while providing artists the opportunity to create outside the boundaries of commercial concerns. The gallery showcases emerging and established artists, both local and international, who actively challenge convention.

With his distinct interest in the imposition of technology upon the environment and the aftermath of the Cold War, Eric LoPresti’s work is rather unique and fits the profile of Kunsthalle Galapagos perfectly. In all of his work dramatic desert-like landscapes juxtapose abstract elements, exploring relationships between science, identity, history and conflict. The artist’s artistic practice explores how our lives are shaped by trauma and beauty deriving directly from his personal experiences while growing up. Recent solo exhibitions next to ‘No Blue Skies’ include ‘Test Site’ at the National Atomic Test Museum, ‘Different Country’ at Like the Spice Gallery in New York City and ‘Afterglow’ at Washington State University. The artist has won the Faber Birren Foundation Award and the Miami Young Painters Award and his work has his work has received mentions among others in The New York Times, The Seattle Times, and the Village Voice.

For more information on Eric LoPresti’s work see here.