Land Rover

Claire Cowie at James Harris Gallery.

Claire Cowie's "12 Views" offers a range of perspectives on one landscape, with a series of watercolors occupying three walls at James Harris Gallery. A shared horizon line connects the 12 paintings, each measuring 22 inches high by 30 inches wide, like so many windows looking out on a view. Using her signature medium, watercolor on paper, as well as sumi color, Cowie aims to reinterpret the imagined landscapes of famed 19th-century Japanese painter and printmaker Hokusai. Tweaking the natural color palette—and with the addition of a meerkat or two—Cowie's watery scenes are a bit surreal and strange. Several paintings are populated with outcroppings of round, disembodied heads, while the natural world is rendered in an altered colorscape. In 12 Views (Blue Tree), seen above, the most serene piece, there is a range of fluorescent pink mountains, strings of low brick walls, and one royal-blue tree. This is the emptiest of the paintings, with a white expanse where a central body of water lies. In the lower-left-hand corner sits a cluster of small buildings, reminiscent of an Italian coastal village, with several boats pulled up to shore. A stand of three trees occupies the middle distance. The trees cast alternating color shadows, their spare, angular branches reflected in the water. Cowie seems to have created a series of near-narrative works, with a story told in unexpected color, strong lines, and pools of pigment. What's happening in these waterscapes is unclear, but you will be drawn into whatever it is. 

 
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