Observing the Overlooked
Ilana Manolson brings seasonal shifts and the perpetual movement within natural landscapes to the viewer’s attention in her recent body of work. Manolson’s paintings are distinguished by fluid brushstrokes, richly layered color, and intuitively rendered shapes and forms. A strong printmaking background informs her artistic process and lends to the luminous surfaces she achieves with oil paint on board. Darker tones graduate to lighter tones, creating reflections of light within her closely focused views of nature.
Manolson approaches her natural surroundings with a close-seeing eye, a practice developed throughout her training as a botanist. She focuses her view of nature on the small, fleeting details typically unobserved by passersby. Manolson’s artist statement expresses, “I am not interested in showing the obvious, but rather in uncovering the overlooked, caught in the momentary shift between fixed and fluid.” Her subjects range from the plants and moments of light caught in the throws of New England’s season changes, viewed from her studio in Concord, MA, to the glens and hedgerows of Ballinglen, Ireland, where Manolson has completed a summer residency for the past two years. Each painting records the details inherent to the landscape as expressive abstractions, pushing notions of realism and the perspective with which nature is viewed.
Through her painting, Manolson explores and studies cycles inherent to the natural realm, including seasonal shifts and the life-to-decay progression of plant and animal life. Themes surrounding global climate change inhabit her most recent body of work. Once Manolson has achieved a gradually built level of paint on the surface of her board, she scrapes or sands away forms, such as leaves, fern fronds, and twigs, to illustrate the effects of society’s strong influence on the environment. The form of a leaf is evoked without being painted, reminding the viewer of the change and loss instigated by forces such as pollution and climate change.
Ilana Manolson is a graduate of Goddard College and the Rhode Island School of Design, where she received her BFA. Her work has been featured in group and solo shows at the Danforth Museum of Art, Boston Public Library, Fuller Craft Museum, Newport Art Museum, and Concord Art Association, as well as numerous international exhibitions. Her work is represented in the collections of the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Fuller Craft Museum. Observing the Overlooked is her fourth solo exhibition at Clark Gallery.