bioephemera

Christopher Reiger

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Between meaning and material (h.H.R.)
Watercolor, gouache, graphite and marker on Arches paper
32 x 32 inches
Christopher Reiger, 2007

My friend Christopher Reiger is appearing in several group shows this summer, so I thought it was a good time to spotlight his work. Above is one of my favorite pieces, between meaning and material (h.H.R.).

I actually got to know Christopher online through his writing – he maintains a blog, Hungry Hyaena. He’s written a number of provocative essays on the changing relationship between humans and nature, drawing on his extensive personal experience as an outdoorsman and naturalist. He’s also a great source for inside reviews of the NYC gallery scene. Lately he’s been posting a bit less often, but that’s because he’s making art (good excuse)!

Regarding Christopher’s paintings, the first adjective that comes to my mind is “feverish”. I have difficulty focusing my eyes in any one quadrant, because the whole is so intricately patterned with light, shade, and chaotic, saturated color. I always feel skittish, off-balance, a little vulnerable amidst the motion of his paintings. It’s like walking through a sun-dappled forest understory, where the half-glimpsed animals and objects around you could be potential predators or potential prey – or the symbols of your own hypervigilant imagination.

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the wildlings come to feed
Watercolor, gouache, sumi ink and marker on Arches paper
27 x 27 inches
Christopher Reiger, 2008

Viewing the paintings adequately on the web is just impossible, so I hope you have a chance to see his work in person at some point. Christopher is currently showing two pieces at the Cerasoli Gallery in Culver City, CA (through August 2). He’ll have several more pieces at Dieu Donne Papermill in NYC, in the show “Opportunity as Community: Artists Select Artists, Part Two” (opening August 1). And his work appears at Denise Bibro Fine Art, where it will be featured in the upcoming exhibition “Animus Botanica” (opens September 4).

From Christopher’s artist statement:

The Scientific Revolution, beginning in the 16th century, distinguished between storied or subjective meaning and hard facts. Over the next three hundred years, an increasingly educated populace abandoned enchantment, myth, and magic in favor of analysis and rigorous experimentation. So, too, did my love of Nature evolve into a fascination with biology and behavioral science. By degrees, however, I became aware of an unfortunate divide between the imagination and reason, particularly as related to natural history. The English poet and critic, John Ruskin, alluded to this schism when he wrote of “the broken harmonies of fact and fancy, thought and feeling, and truth and faith.” Even as we seem to know an increasing number of facts about Nature, we comprehend less of it.

The current body of work is borne of these ideas and questions, but also responds to our contemporary cultural and political climate: extremism and philosophical relativism thrive today, symptomatic of an ailing faith in reason and idealism; the global populace is increasingly uncertain and insecure; we embrace hybrid cosmologies, mixing our traditional stories and religions with science, consumerism and imported narratives. I call this world-view hysterical transcendentalism. The animals and the hallucinatory landscapes depicted in my paintings are both specific – representations of a species and place – and metaphors for the human condition.

More:

Interview with Christopher at MyArtSpace blog