DOUG FOGELSON: CREATIVE DESTRUCTION
It’s been more than 50 years since Silent Spring indicted the human race for systematic destruction of the planet, and over 150 years since Thoreau allegorized Walden Pond as an analogy for the innate freedom of man. At a time when the earth’s natural environment at last takes center stage as a global political platform of its own, Doug Fogelson’s new works — prismatic, saturated views of forests, treses, fields, and mountains — presciently honor nature while implying the artist’s anxiety about its destruction. By layering multiple exposures and manipulating color film before printing his large-scale works, Fogelson creates hyper-energized, collage-like pictures that suggest the ever-changing quality of nature as well as threats to its longevity. In works such as Ceaseless No. 1, 2015, the torn and wrinkled layers of film pigment fan out in translucent magenta and cyan sheathes, giving way to an image of dense forest that bleeds into full resolution where the film remained undestroyed.
A lover of color and the mechanics of film development, Fogelson has long explored ways in which the act of making photographs can innately reference environmental fragility. A recent series featured a grouping of full-color Photograms made with plants, insects, bones, and other natural elements. Graphic and vibrant, the works showed once-living objects in silhouette, having exposed the photosensitive paper in stages to create the effect of shadows. Beneath broken-glass picture frames, Fogelson’s photograms allude to the impermanence of nature: What lives today may just as well be a fossilized relic tomorrow.
Fogelson’s newer works expand on the color sensibilities of his photograms with an added depth of field. In psychedelic hues that at times translate as a sepia tone (such as the fade-out quality of Creative Destruction No. 2, 2016, which slides from full-color, sun-dappled foliage into pastel pinks and greens) or the colors one might see in a dream (Creative Destruction No. 4, 2016, an abstracted pond that appears as an acid-bath topography: lime green plants in the foreground; neon blue water in the back), Fogelson’s photographs evoke a sense of nostalgia and wistfulness – a melancholy that premeditates an urgency to preserve the environment. Though the artist’s hand contorts and bruises his images of nature, in doing so he also creates capsulated jewel box depictions of an endangered world.
On view at Sasha Wolf Gallery till April 16, 2016
Anne Prentnieks is New York City-based art writer and critic for publications including Artforum.com and WSJ Magazine.