Sperone Westwater is pleased to present new glacier paintings by Warren, Connecticut-based artist Alexis Rockman, his fifth solo at the gallery. Presented amidst the critical ecological moment of global warming and climate crisis, this exhibition delivers an urgent, if not cautionary vision of the environmental state of the planet. In these epic works, glaciers of massive scale tower forebodingly, their monumentality underscored by the inclusion of small-scale foreground elements such as traditional kayaks of Arctic indigenous peoples. Rockman simultaneously looks to the past, referencing historic shipwrecks like the ill-fated USS Jeannette in his painting of the same name, while grounding himself firmly in the present, as calving icebergs or cascading waterfalls of melting ice reflect the state of our warming climate. Exhibited alongside his glacial works are watercolor seascapes that imagine artifacts lost to the ocean and the wildlife that inherit them, further mythologizing the creative and destructive forces of the natural world.
“These glacier paintings are more lyrical and melancholy than direct activism,” says Rockman. “It’s more of being a witness to not only the glacial geology that we’re losing but also the culture of Inuit people, their way of life and the animals that they depend on that are going by the wayside. The paintings may seem peaceful at first as they contemplate unsettling, invisible ruptures, breaches and fractures in the glaciers that are hidden dramas from climate change.”
Rockman is also the subject of a solo museum show, “Alexis Rockman: Oceanus,” opening 27 May at the Mystic Seaport Museum in Connecticut, which will feature Oceanus, an 8-by-24-foot panoramic oil painting, and 10 large-scale watercolors commissioned by the museum for their permanent collection. With these works, the artist looks above and beneath the ocean’s surface to examine critical environmental and therefore social issues of our past, present and what the future may hold. The exhibition will be followed by “Mark Dion and Alexis Rockman: Journey to Nature’s Underworld” opening at The Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT on 24 June.
Notable solo museum exhibitions include “Alexis Rockman: Manifest Destiny” at the Brooklyn Museum (2004), which traveled to several institutions including the Wexner Center for the Arts (2004) and the Rhode Island School of Design (2005). In 2010, the Smithsonian American Art Museum organized “Alexis Rockman: A Fable for Tomorrow,” a major touring survey of his paintings and works on paper. Concurrent with Rockman’s 2013 exhibition at Sperone Westwater, the Drawing Center mounted “Drawings from Life of Pi,” featuring the artist’s collaboration with Ang Lee on the award-winning film Life of Pi. His series of 76 New Mexico Field Drawings was included in “Future Shock” at SITE Santa Fe (2017-18). “Alexis Rockman: The Great Lakes Cycle,” a major exhibition of large-scale paintings, watercolors and field drawings, toured the Midwest in 2018-20, opening at the Grand Rapids Art Museum and traveling to five institutions in the Great Lakes region. “Alexis Rockman: Shipwrecks,” opened at the Peabody Essex Museum (2021) and traveled to Guild Hall (2021), Ackland Art Museum (2022), and Princeton University Art Museum (2022). Rockman’s work is represented in many museum collections, including the Baltimore Museum of Art; Brooklyn Museum; Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art; Grand Rapids Art Museum; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; New Orleans Museum of Art; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Smithsonian American Art Museum; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; and Whitney Museum of American Art.