The New Naturalism
by Donald Kuspit
If these paintings by Mia Brownell
and Derrick Guild
are any clue, a "new naturalism" has appeared on the scene, convincing by reason of its ironical take on nature and by the exquisiteness of its rendering. It’s a nature "After Eden," to refer to the title of Guild’s exhibition -- a nature that is no longer a paradise, that has fallen from the grace of God, and become a patinated "fiction" of itself, as Guild suggests. Guild paints plants, deceptively beautiful, for they are tromp l’oeil illusions, painted on stained, aged, quasi-vellum canvas, suggesting they are a specimens of a dying nature, even memento mori of a nature that no longer exists -- a nature that is more artistic mirage than vital reality. It’s a nature that gives Brownell "Stomach Acid Dreams," to refer to the title of her exhibition, for it stretches the dialectical imagination with its uncanniness: a simple geometrical construction -- its abstract root, as it were -- that bears, like a cornucopian tree of life, lush fruit, as Still Life with Helix
(2010) suggests. What looks like sterile geometry is fertile with organic life.