Wendell Gladstone, 2011, acrylic on linen, 84″ x 60″, © 2011, courtesy of Kravets Wehby Gallery and the artist
With an impressive array of rendering styles and surface textures, and a healthy dose of sleight of hand, Wendell Gladstone lures you into his mysterious dreamscapes. He invites you to join a program already in progress, your eyes racing to take in a drama that is unfolding in multiple dimensions. He tempts you to pull on loose threads that snake and weave through colorful figures, objects, landscapes and abstract patterns, each painstakingly-crafted in acrylic paint and gesso. These visual elements are complemented by his elusive stories, which, like his visual elements, often mutate within a painting, and from one painting to the next. Gladstone’s stories and visual elements are a melting pot of invention and osmosis. His paintings evoke timeless fables or parables that have been infected by the impurities and detritus of modern life. Throughout Gladstone’s work, we are reminded of our increasingly-strained relationship with the natural environment. In several works, sad-sack characters and star-crossed lovers share the foreground with beach trash, empty beer cans, steam engines and distressed wildlife. In other works, wildlife and the natural environment are the central victims of a dystopian relationship, or violent encounter, with humanity. While these stories rarely seem to end well for humans or nature, there may be a ray of hope in Gladstone’s work. His numerous references to aboriginal cultures living in natural environments are a reminder that we enjoyed a healthier relationship to nature in the not-so-distant past, and that this relationship is not beyond reach.
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C.A.B., Malthusian Solution
Wendell Gladstone, 2011, acrylic on linen, 84″ x 180″, © 2011, courtesy of Kravets Wehby Gallery and the artist
Smoke Signal Rope Umbilical
Wendell Gladstone, 2007, acrylic on canvas, 66″ x 84″, © 2007, courtesy of Kravets Wehby Gallery and the artist