Mia Rosenthal, American Landscapes
March 3 – April 14, 2012
By Todd Keyser
Mia Rosenthal’s solo exhibition, American Landscapes, at Gallery Joe features nine new drawings that appropriate the luminous paintings of the Hudson River School to postmodern sublimity. Rosenthal is a Philadelphia-based artist who was recently included in Here and Now: Prints, Drawings and Photography by 10 Philadelphia Artists at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
In Rosenthal’s densely inked drawings, two sets of signs co-exist in the same space and support each other in the construction of her pictures. Rosenthal’s appropriated images from Hudson River School paintings are the primary imagery in each drawing. Upon closer inspection, each appropriated image is made up of smaller iconic representations of birds, fish, trees, insects, and plants. The artist has classified each type of species, hand writing its name next to each icon.
Appropriating the likes of Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Cole, and John Frederick Kensett is not unlike the work of earlier postmodern artists; Sherrie Levin and Richard Pettibone both straightforwardly depict the work of their modernist predecessors. But Rosenthal’s work is much more playful and even quirky, not clinical or cool as these artists’ works can be. Stylistically, her drawings are not naturalistic so much as pop, and when standing back from each work, the small iconic images converge to form something quite different than the landscape paintings of Thomas Cole. Rosenthal’s contrasting color flickers to great effect and reminds us of Marcel Duchamp’s favorite post-impressionist painter George Seurat.
Todd Keyser is a Philadelphia-based artist. Keyser received his MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art.