Wrapped in Plastic, Botanical Paintings by Amanda Besl

October 26, 2019 - January 11, 2020

This body of recent work depicts the paradox of preservation and suffocation. Remnants of botanical debris are visible through the translucent ‘skin’ of the plastic that contains them. These culled, severed bodies appear suspended in an ambiguous matrix, possessing a quasi-fetishistic nature while simultaneously suggesting some darker, possibly arbitrary form of curation. This hierarchy of selection – an essential activity in gardening – I liken to America’s current turbulent political climate, in which distinctions become lost in confusion and distortion. Nothing held in stasis can exist indefinitely without evolution or stagnation. The titles reference R.E.M. songs. This group’s use of music as a platform for social change was influential while creating this body of work.

My process began with the extraction of my garden’s botanical flotsam and its placement into translucent plastic yard bags. I meticulously photographed these materials as subjects for my oil paintings. The resulting suggested movement straddles both hyperrealism and abstraction. I have also experimented with a highly glossed surface finish, which I intend as both a reference to the filmy substrate holding the actual clippings and as a further seduction.

 Amanda Besl's oil paintings are psychological constructed environments in which she uses natural history as a platform to discuss social issues. She has shown widely in both Western New York and New York City, and in Belgium, France, the Netherlands, and Russia. Besl holds an MFA in Painting from the Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, MI and a BFA from SUNY Oswego. Her paintings are part of several notable private and public collections including the Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo; Nichido Contemporary, Tokyo, Japan; the Burger Collection, Hong Kong and the Tullman Collection, Chicago. Besl works in the Arts Department at Nichols School in Buffalo as an Upper School Visual Arts teacher. She finds inspiration in the garden she obsessively tends, which provides props for her seemingly languid and slightly insidious still life worlds. 


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