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Springtime in Southern California
April 26 – June 18, 2022

Nino Mier Gallery is thrilled to present Springtime in Southern California, an exhibition by Los Angeles-based artist Jake Longstreth, on view in Brussels from April 26 – June 18, 2022.  The exhibition is Longstreth’s fifth solo show with the gallery, but his first at our Brussels location.  He will present seventeen new landscape paintings and three new drawings that develop his ongoing representations of Southern California’s topography and atmosphere.

For the past decade, Longstreth has focused his practice on depicting the greater Los Angeles area with a frankness that calls to mind William Carlos Williams' famous line, “no ideas but in things.”  Foregoing the symbolic and the abstract, Longstreth’s paintings apprise the physical and natural structures we cultivate and preserve.  His oeuvre therefore comprises two major categories: architectural paintings and landscape paintings of the natural world.  The former feature unpopulated or wholly shuttered corporate chains such as Circuit City and Toys R Us, while the latter waver between smoldering and idyllic renderings of iconic botanic and geologic features of Southern California.  Part of what unites these two currents is how they evince in viewers a kind of backwards glance: we look over our shoulder to regard the triumphs and failures of our built environment, and to the natural world that preceded it with a mixture of nostalgia and acceptance. 

In Springtime in Southern California, Longstreth retrieves landscapes embedded into every Southern Californian’s consciousness, transfiguring them in a naked, stark light.  Now more than ever, signs of human life and infrastructure—footsteps on hiking trails, telephone wires, smoggy air—are left out of his compositions.  Instead, Longstreth cultivates a mood of bucolic reverie.  For the exhibition, he adds seven new paintings and three new ink drawings to his ongoing tree series, which primarily depict eucalyptuses, oaks, and pines.  His trees are centered in their compositions and cropped to exclude their tops and bases, focusing instead on the textural intricacies of their foliage and bark.  Another group of four oil on paper works represents broad vistas in the San Dimas Canyon, part of an experimental forest in the San Gabriel Mountains.  The canyon, which is now closed to the public, is rendered with Longstreth’s brush in an impressionistic haze of blues and greens, pierced in works such as San Dimas Canyon #4 (November Sun) with charred, spiky branches that have no doubt seen some of the many rampant forest fires in recent years.

The focal point of the exhibition is six paintings on paper inspired by the pastoral work of Granville Redmond, a California Impressionist landscape painter with auspices in the Barbizon school of nineteenth century France.  Longstreth was inspired by Redmond’s quasi-pointillist technique that produces renderings of landscapes saturated with a wide diversity of color and texture.  These small-scale paintings of the American West are intimate and serene: what used to be a genre of painting imbued with a drive to conquer and cultivate is now, in Longstreth’s hands, an opportunity to take stock in our individual relationships to a specific atmosphere.

The rolling hills around Los Angeles are brown and charred for most of the year, dehydrated due to drought and burnt due to uncontrolled wildfires.  The springtime brings a few months of liveliness to the mountains, when grass turns green and flowers blossom.  For most of the year, though, this color palette remains but a memory or fantasy—one that gets slowly eroded with each passing year as our climate continues to warm.  Springtime in Southern California offers us an opportunity to slow down and consider this ephemeral environment.

Jake Longstreth (b. 1977, Sharon, CT; lives and works in Los Angeles) received his MFA from California College of the Arts in San Francisco, CA. He has been included in numerous solo and group exhibitions at Nino Mier Gallery, Los Angeles; Almine Rech, New York; David Kordansky, Los Angeles; Gregory Lind Gallery, San Francisco; Crisp Ellert Museum, St. Augustine, Florida; Monya Rowe Gallery, New York; M Woods, Beijing; and Blum & Poe, Los Angeles.