The last studio album the Talking Heads ever made included a song called “Nothing But Flowers.” The protagonist of the song describes a post-industrial landscape in which Mother Earth, having reached the limit of her tolerance, has sprung full bloom in retaliation, blanketing our shopping malls and skyscrapers with trees, rivers, and daisies. The man in the song is hostile about it all. He misses the 7-11’s and wishes for a lawnmower.
Chloe Early imagines much the same scenario in her paintings, but by contrast, she embraces nature’s revolt. In “Rainbow Ruins,” which opened November 10th at Corey Helford Gallery, Early attempts to capture the transition, that moment when all our cars, machines, and gizmos are rendered useless and swallowed whole by flora and fauna. In that moment, in Early’s hands, all that stuff we covet seems antiquated, yet infused with their own sad beauty. There is a central, recurring female figure throughout these paintings. The young woman is guided by a spirit dove through the ruins. In several pieces, there is a male, Christ-like figure as well. One wonders if these are the only two people left, and unlike Adam & Eve, they’ve been chosen to remain in paradise.
Early grew up in Cork, Ireland, a place not unfamiliar with lush greenery, yet her palette is largely autumnal earth tones. While there are several small watercolor studies in the show, and a few oil on linen pieces, it’s the large oil on aluminum paintings that strike the deepest chord. Putting aside the obvious narrative that a giant hunk of aluminum makes in context, Early applies thin washes of color patches to these that shimmer and breathe life into the work. They are grand, orchestral compositions.
Should Early’s organic apocalypse ever come, I will sit right here, reading T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland, and hope that her spirit dove guides me too.
“Rainbow Ruins” runs until December 8, 2012Corey Helford Gallery
8522 Washington Blvd
Culver City, 90232
Open Tuesday-Saturday, noon-6pm; or by appointment