June 1 - July 31, 2009

Miriam Shiell Fine Art is pleased to present WOOD and ASH an exhibition of works by international artists Jorge Mayet, Wendy Wischer, Lee Friedlander, Wang Keping, David Nash, Robert Kelly, Sean Cavanagh, Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, Zhang Huan, Angel Marcos, Claudette Schreuders, Zadok Ben David, and wood carvings from Melanasia and the Ivory Coast.

WOOD and ASH is the reprisal of an exhibition that I put on in the 1980s which owes its origin to the Tree wood being the traditional medium for sculptors and charcoal the tool for artists since antiquity. In this exhibition a new generation of artists looks to the elemental and spiritual symbolism of the Tree.

Installed in the courtyard, the corten steel tree of Zadok Ben David, his now classic image known from Yad Vasham in Israel, introduces the exhibition. Inside the gallery the lyrical red tree of Cuban artist Jorge Mayet and the light reflecting hanging tree of American Wendy Wischer add a touch of whimsy to the intensity of the charred David Nash sculpture. American Wischer's suspended tree, delicately constructed of wire, hangs upside down, casting elongated shadows. It both playfully and thoughtfully explores the concept of roots in heaven while Wales based Nash's early sculpture Fins, a charred propeller laid out on a wooden block, has the weight of finality. Robert Kelly's Thicket finds a rhythmic pattern painted on a collaged ground of a found paper. While Rastros 19, an enigmatic print from Spanish artist Angel Marcos, presents a staged forest scene in which ordinary objects suggest a ritualistic or even supernatural happening. Wang Keping's unique sculpture was created as the artist searched for the soul within the wood, allowing the knots and cracks to define its form. In contrast to Keping's sensual Woman, performance artist and photographer Zang Huan's Pear Blossom Grove presents a biting commentary based on cultural tensions experienced both in China and as an ex-patriot in New York. Lee Friedlander is known for his documentation the American social landscape. Beginning in the 1980's he turned his lens to what he considers the 'living art' of the urban parks designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. The two tree portraits here Prospect Park, Brooklyn and Rockwood, Tarrytown exemplify his cool iconic vision. The shadow of Wischer's tree against the electric pink of Sean Cavanagh's Virile Centurion is a fitting introduction for a young artist with impressive lineage as the grandson of the great master Milton Avery. South African artist Claudette Schreuders was first introduced to American collectors a decade a go. Her painted self portrait with a wine glass, Mingle humors her background as a white South African whilst playing silent homage to the craft art of Western Africa. WOOD and ASH culminates with Canadian duo Janet Cardiffand George Bures Miller's now classic House Burning.

This exhibition reflects a personal statement as I personally collected much of this work over the past decade. I hope that you will find it both whimsical and thoughtful.

Miriam Shiell, 2009

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