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Rachael Wren Square Roots


Above: Overgrowth, 2013, oil on linen, 24� x 24� Front Cover: Grove (detail), 2012


Rachael Wren Square Roots

April 23 – May 18, 2013

547 West 27th Street, Suite 500 New York, NY 10001


Marsh, 2012, oil on linen, 20” x 20”


Rachael Wren and the Nature of Glimpsing Henry David Thoreau wrote in his Journal: “Sometimes I would rather get a transient glimpse or side view of a thing than stand fronting to it …. The object I caught a glimpse of as I went by haunts my thoughts a long time, is infinitely suggestive.”1 The things we glimpse are always suffused with uncertainty. Thoreau cast this uncertainty as productive, believing that his excursions in the Walden woods opened him to encounters with a natural world that was different and various each time he encountered it. Like Thoreau, Rachael Wren is interested in a natural world whose most powerful feature is suggestiveness. Her abstract landscapes offer glimpses of the finite (the leaf, the blade of grass, the ripple) within the infinite (the woods, the meadow, the marsh). At the knife-edge of liminal space — the threshold of the forest, the hybrid terrain of wetlands, a world made eerie by the glare of the moon — familiar natural forms take on uncanny, vaporous manifestations. The titles of Wren’s paintings tell us what to look for but not how to see it. Take, for example, Marsh. The painting suggests blue water punctured by green reeds, or green water reflecting a blue sky. The eponymous marsh holds the sun’s reflection, or is lit by some luminescence from within. The eye glimpses one possibility and then the other, and then the other, cycling through them ad infinitum. Wren’s vibrating, glowy color combinations catalyze this fluidity of vision, as do her soft, ovoid brushstrokes, which seem to dissolve the grid upon which they are arranged. No matter what we see in Wren’s paintings, we want to get closer to them, even step inside them. Paintings such as Grove, Clearing, Two Paths, and City Sky Cadence suggest sliding panels, or partings in a billowing curtain that we might step through, if we could only time our stepping just right. More often than not, these apertures slide and shift, effacing any sure point of entry. The paintings evoke doorways in the way that a pair of trees, a fissure in a rock face, a clearing in the brambles, or a parting in the clouds evokes a doorway. We are possessed by the instinct to go in, and beyond, into what Thoreau called “the background into which leads the path of the pilgrim.”2


The evolution of Wren’s work chronicles her own particular pilgrimage. Over the past ten years, she has moved further and further from representation in order to push the limits of what we recognize as “natural” form. The grid and repeated regular brushstrokes have organized and even contained landscapes predominately composed of what resists control: light, reflection, and vapor. In her newest work, such as Dynamic Equilibrium, Inlet, Midwinter, and Overgrowth, we glimpse the entropic. Wren’s brushstrokes are quicksilver as aspen leaves: they shimmy and pulse. Forms advance, recede, and advance again, straining toward us through the canvas. As the title of the show, Square Roots, implies, the artist is still looking at the natural world through the lens of geometry. Perhaps there is a dash of chaos theory in here too. The new paintings honor and accelerate the capricious motion of organic matter. We might glimpse a rain shower touching ground, a swarm of insects darkening the sky, a wave breaking over the breakwater, or lilac bushes spontaneously exploding into blossom. Or we might glimpse something else entirely. Of one thing we can be certain: the phenomena of Wren’s paintings suggest as many stories, spaces, secrets, or states of mind as there are viewers to glimpse and be haunted by them. Cecily Parks March 2013 Cambridge, Massachusetts Cecily Parks is the author of the poetry chapbook Cold Work (Poetry Society of America, 2005) and the collection Field Folly Snow (University of Georgia Press, 2008). She is at work on a second collection, O’nights, as well as a scholarly project on swamps and experimental writing by American women.

Henry David Thoreau, The Journal of Henry David Thoreau: 1837-1861 (New York: New York Review of Books Classics, 2009) 475. 2 Henry David Thoreau, An American Landscape: Selected Writings from His Journals (New York: Marlowe and Company, 1991) 14. 1


Midwinter, 2013, oil on linen, 36” x 36”


City Sky Cadence, 2013, oil on linen, 48” x 96”


Grove, 2012, oil on linen, 48” x 48”


Two Paths, 2013, oil on linen, 36” x 36”


Clearing, 2013, oil on linen, 24” x 24”


Moonrise, 2011, oil on linen, 48” x 48”


Dynamic Equilibrium, 2013, oil on linen, 36” x 36”


Rachael Wren

www.rachaelwren.com EDUCATION 2002 MFA, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 1998 BA, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA SOLO & TWO PERSON EXHIBITIONS 2013 Square Roots, The Painting Center, New York, NY 2011 Rachael Wren: Small Paintings, The Burrison Gallery, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA Thought Patterns: Julie Shapiro & Rachael Wren, The Painting Center, New York, NY 2008 An Impulse to Order, Creative Arts Workshop, New Haven, CT 2006 Vicinity, University Gallery, University of Massachusetts, Lowell, MA 2004 New Work, Hunt-Cavanagh Gallery, Providence College, Providence, RI SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS 2013 Real Time, AS | Artists Studios, New York, NY, curated by Jill Conner 2012 Boundary Hunters, Fosdick-Nelson Gallery, Alfred University, Alfred, NY Speakers, 111 Front Street, Brooklyn, NY Of White, Nuartlink, Westport, CT Grey Full, Jeff Bailey Gallery, New York, NY, curated by Geoffrey Young 2011 Hybrid, Kleinert/James Gallery, Woodstock, NY B-Sides, York College, Jamaica, NY Beyond Measure, C2 Fine Art, St. Petersburg, FL Major Grey, Geoffrey Young Gallery, Great Barrington, MA Outer Space, Exit Art, New York, NY 2010 Art on Paper 2010, Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, NC, curated by Xandra Eden Strategic Abstraction, Geoffrey Young Gallery, Great Barrington, MA New Walls/Fresh Paint, The Painting Center, New York, NY Source, City College of New York, New York, NY Funktionlust, Local Project, Long Island City, NY Fuzzy Logic, Thompson Gallery, Weston, MA Alchemy: Art and Science, Clark University, Worcester, MA 2009 Metro 26, City Without Walls, Newark, NJ Abstraction Now, Nassau Community College, Garden City, NY Waves of Change, St. Joseph’s College, Brooklyn, NY

2008 2007 2006 2005 2003

Emerge 9, Aljira: A Center for Contemporary Art, Newark, NJ, curated by Christopher Lew Inquiry: Five Painting Practices, Gross McCleaf Gallery, Philadelphia, PA Untitled, Repetti Gallery, Long Island City, NY Out of Me, Out of You, Subdivision, Long Island City, NY The 181st Annual Exhibition, National Academy Museum, New York, NY Making Your Mark, Brooklyn Arts Council, Brooklyn, NY Seeded, RKL Gallery, Brooklyn, NY Specimen, Soil Art Gallery, Seattle, WA

AWARDS & RESIDENCIES 2009 Artist Residency, Saltonstall Foundation, Ithaca, NY 2008 Artist in Residence, St. Mary’s College, St. Mary’s City, MD Semester-long Visiting Artist in Residence, University of North Carolina, Greensboro, NC 2007 Aljira Emerge Fellowship Artist Residency, Wilson College, Chambersburg, PA 2006 Julius Hallgarten Prize, National Academy Museum Artist Residency, Byrdcliffe Colony, Woodstock, NY 2004 Artist Residency, The Anderson Center, Red Wing, MN 2003 Artist Residency, Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, VT SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY Sutphin, Eric. “Four Sides to Every Story”, catalog essay for Boundary Hunters. October 2012. Farina, Matthew. “Thought Patterns,” Beard & Brush. Jan. 25, 2011. Price, Marshall. “Process and Perception,” catalog essay for Thought Patterns. November 2010. New American Paintings, Edition #86, Feb/March 2010. Birke, Judy. “CAW Faculty and Their Guests Show Wide-Ranging Creativity,” New Haven Register. Oct. 5, 2008. Butler, Sharon. “Faculty & Friends: The Creative Arts Workshop,” Connecticut Art Scene. Sept. 27, 2008. Kasrel, Deni. “Arts Picks,” Philadelphia City Paper. July 1, 2008. Calhoun, Drew. “Evolution Through Space,” The Carolinian. April 29, 2008. Glancy, Marie. “L.I.C.’s Repetti Celebrates Free-Form Expression,” Queens Chronicle. Feb. 14, 2008. Van Siclen, Bill. “Art Scene,” The Providence Journal. March 17, 2005. The Seattle Review. Featured artist, series of drawings. Spring 2004. Hackett, Regina. “Nature Becomes Artificial in the Hands of Artists at Soil,” The Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Nov. 14, 2003. Turnrow. Featured artist, 10-page color spread. Fall 2003.

Photography by Susan Alzner


Profile for Rachael Wren

Square Roots  

Catalog for "Square Roots," a solo exhibition of recent paintings by Rachael Wren. On view at The Painting Center, 547 W 27th Street, NYC,...

Square Roots  

Catalog for "Square Roots," a solo exhibition of recent paintings by Rachael Wren. On view at The Painting Center, 547 W 27th Street, NYC,...

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