MOVABLE TERRAIN April 20 - May 20, 2006 Michael Steinberg Fine Art
The paintings and prints in Movable Terrain continue my interest in Chinoiserie and Meissen porcelain as a stand in for authentic social experience. These new works combine Chinoiserie with California modernist architecture from the 1940’s-60’s. This collision of the European desire eroticize eastern culture and the American forward looking architectural project of ‘California Moderne’ is a powerful collapse of historical spaces. These spaces are painted fiction, which unites two utopian constructs across time and with the delightful panache of brush, oil and sumi. These paintings also extend a long-term interest in nature experienced by the practice of physical exploration and its conduits found in Japanese woodcuts and Chinese scrolls. The Chinoiserie encapsulates a romanticized, folly like view of the natural environment while the California modernism attempts to stand up to and to frame a nature that is enormous in scale. The intimate against the immense.
The title “Movable Terrain” is a reflection of how compact our lives have become. We live in a time in which we can easily lay filters into and over our experiences. We can pick and choose our histories and create and recreate them as we wish. We can inhabit long-ago historical moments effortlessly and then change the channel. If we only receive the image or experience, we are its consumer; yet if you engage it, as I have tried to do in these paintings, it becomes a kind of movable terrain, a delicious feast of the mind in all these mediated and human spaces.