Does anyone seriously doubt global warming anymore? Some people who used to ask why we live in such a vulnerable place had a rude awakening when Hurricane Sandy made it clear that vast storms are no longer confined to the tropics but now threaten even New York’s financial district. Perhaps climate change is a reminder that we have become alienated from our origins. Jacqueline Bishop has been addressing such questions in her paintings and mixed-media work for many years, and her new show at Arthur Roger Gallery is startling, not simply for its meticulous virtuosity, but also for its scope. Sages have long said the subconscious, including dreams, is where nature still rules in otherwise “civilized” humans, and this exhibit brings together a remarkable melding of wild nature and the inner wildness of the psyche in works that revisit old themes while pursuing new directions.
World View revisits one of Bishop’s iconic symbols in the form of a bird’s nest seemingly floating in blue space where it is entangled in vines and seemingly bursting at the seams with a profusion of birds, butterflies, fish and tropical fruit. At the center lies an iridescent blue-green sphere — planet Earth — as a kind of cosmic egg. In World Journey, trees and furry creatures ride in pirogues across a dark blue sea, and here the sense of space expands, though not as much as in Passage, a large painting in which layers of thin grey clouds define a cobalt sky where many birds are darkly silhouetted. In Procession (pictured) the birds are silhouetted against a fiery crimson sky, while in the foreground a doe with a tree rising from its back rides a choppy blue sea in a dinghy. Although this makes no logical sense, it eloquently speaks a poetic language of dreams and metaphors to evoke the interconnectedness of all earthly life. The aura of these paintings is magical and cannot really be reproduced. You just have to be there.
Through Dec. 22
Against the Tide: New paintings and mixed media by Jacqueline Bishop
Arthur Roger Gallery, 432 Julia St., 522-1999