Altered Spaces, Hard Edges in Nina Bednarski's 'Otherlands 5-D'
“Otherlands 5-D” is a name that fits like a gossamer glove around the new works by Nina Bednarski. On view at Grove Gallery in Walker’s Point, the installation starts with a painting of a red disk over a green landscape, a ladder-back chair painted with the word “Rest,” and an array of plants, rocks and branches in the storefront window of the historic building. It’s an invitation into this airy, intimate space.
Bednarski’s paintings are crisp, with hard edges and flat colors like a mid-century minimalist, but the figurative and symbolic aspects are the real focal points. A triptych called Otherlandia is inhabited in three pieces by a jackrabbit, a deer and a fox. All are creatures of the wild, dotted with sparse arrays of red dots and star shapes. Done on glass, they are painted on the reverse side so their surfaces are particularly pristine. They inhabit candy-colored landscapes of vibrant greens and yellows, accompanied by red trees and purple mountains in a psychedelic Eden. Their altered appearance suggests something to be learned by attentiveness to otherworldly qualities.
Other figures appear like sages in these painting and three-dimensional wall pieces. Harmony includes a feminine form decked out with horns like a mystical seer, standing in a pale, cave-like entrance. Outside, a towering red plant grows from the ground, tendrils of roots still visible. Approaching this place is a sapphire figure with head bowed, surrounded by haloes of varied blues. It is like the dream of a pilgrimage to find a source of solace or knowledge.
In the exhibition statement, Bednarski explains that these works were not simple endeavors, but borne of personal journeys and a belief in the ability to “create a lighter, brighter place for our dreams to rest.” There are times when we all need this, a respite and a place to recharge energy. Her words conclude by stating, “Love always wins.” This is not a sentiment of easy flowers, but something more spiritual, searching for bedrock as solid as the contour lines of these figures and landscapes.
Through June 18 at Grove Gallery, 832 S. Fifth St.