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For the last several years, Cole Sternberg has been using painting to explore the intersection of the elements. With a ...
moreFor the last several years, Cole Sternberg has been using painting to explore the intersection of the elements. With a rich body of work that covers the expanse of not only painting, but also installation, video, photography, and text, the Los Angeles-based artist is no stranger to multimedia endeavors. His intricately textured paintings, however, enlists a peculiar process worthy of special attention.
Sternberg begins his painting process by layering ink, acrylic, and other traditional painting materials on raw, unprimed linen. He then submerges the linen in a natural body of water, allowing the water to both weathers away pigment and form its own marks on the surface. With this series, the paintings were dragged behind fishing boats and sailboats in freshwater lakes. Elsewhere, Sternberg fulfilled a lifelong dream of completing a naval voyage across the Pacific Ocean and created a number of works in the seawater. It would be misleading, however, to reduce the artist’s process to this simplified, formulaic approach. The compositions are not necessarily planned and this process of layering and submerging can repeat any number of times. Even the interim drying process between layering and submerging is subject to its own idiosyncrasies. The linen may be laid out flat, folded, or hung to dry, such that wind and gravity can influence the way pigmented materials shift as they dry on the wet linen. Whether this drying process takes place on deck, in the grass, or in dirt can further influence the formation of marks on the linen.
Up until the works are shipped back to the artist’s studio and stretched into their final shape, the linen is consistently subjected to the somewhat random processes of nature and transport. With this revolving cycle of layering, submerging, dragging, weathering, hanging, bundling, and so forth, it is not entirely possible to distinguish the elemental marks from the artistic ones. The indistinguishable quality of the markings parallels the uncanny appearance of patterns in nature. Although the true state of nature is chaotic and disordered, the textures of nature can appear patterned and evoke a rhythmic quality. Still, no matter the harmonious appearance of a pasture or a lakebed, every blade of grass and every ripple of water is radically singular.
Sternberg’s paintings engage with the broader history of landscape and seascape painting by integrating painting practices with environmental art practices. In doing so, his paintings travel beyond representing or staging natural processes in a visual format. Rather than simulating nature, Sternberg creates his work with nature itself. The result is a total reconfiguration of perspective. Though Sternberg’s paintings have all been literally submerged in water, they resist a comparably static situation. The works’ situation in the interstitial spaces between land and sea or ocean and air, sometimes lifts into the clouds and beyond less
- 78ʺW × 1.5ʺD × 84ʺH
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- Mint Condition, Original Condition Unaltered, No Imperfections
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