On The Precarious Natural World
Cross sections of logs and branches act as canvases for Alison Moritsugu’s mosaic-like installations. She uses the structure of furniture and natural wood to add depth to her detailed landscape paintings. What emerges is stunning, the juxtaposition of natural materials and their representations in oil. Moritsugu uses the wood as a symbol of destruction of nature, contrasting it with the idyllic scenes of her paintings, images of a nature not-yet destroyed.
Moritsugu writes about her art:
In my log paintings, I examine the contrivances found in landscape paintings of the 18th and 19th centuries. These landscapes, by artists such as Albert Bierstadt and Frederic Edwin Church, were deeply rooted in the political constructs of the time and depicted the land as a bountiful Eden, a limitless frontier ripe for conquest. I take these images out of their familiar context, the framed canvas, and paint directly on wood slices with bark intact. These landscapes appear as an homage to the idyllic art of the Hudson River School yet, by viewing the painting’s surface, the cross section of a tree, any sense of nostalgia or celebration of nature is countered by the evidence of its destruction.
My work reveals how idealized images of the land shape our concept of the natural world—in essence, how our experiences are mediated by the mechanisms of art and culture. Painters throughout art history from the Northern Song, Baroque, Rococo and Hudson River School tailored their depictions of nature to serve an artistic narrative. Today, photoshopped images of verdant forests and unspoiled beaches invite us to vacation and sightsee, providing a false sense of assurance that the wilderness will always exist. By exploring idealized views of nature, my work acknowledges our more complex and precarious relationship with the environment.
Moritsugu was born in Hawai’i and lives and works out of Beacon, New York.