Hawaiian artist, Alison Moritsugu uses fallen tree logs as a canvas to capture the essence of mother nature. Moritsugu “log paintings” mimic the art styles of the 18th and 19th century and explore the history of American landscapes.
The painted tree trunks allow the viewer to see what America used to look like before the destructive effects of industrialization.
“These landscapes, by artists such as Albert Bierstadt and Frederic Edwin Church, were deeply rooted in the political constructs of the time and depicted the land as a bountiful Eden, a limitless frontier ripe for conquest,” Alison Moritsugu writes in her artist statement. “I take these images out of their familiar context, the framed canvas, and paint directly on wood slices with bark intact. These landscapes appear as an homage to the idyllic art of the Hudson River School yet, by viewing the painting’s surface, the cross section of a tree, any sense of nostalgia or celebration of nature is countered by the evidence of its destruction”
Moritsugu’s art project is fascinating because it shows the image of nature on a section or sample of real nature.
Painters throughout art history from the Northern Song, Baroque, Rococo and Hudson River School tailored their depictions of nature to serve an artistic narrative. Today, photoshopped images of verdant forests and unspoiled beaches invite us to vacation and sightsee, providing a false sense of assurance that the wilderness will always exist. By exploring idealized views of nature, my work acknowledges our more complex and precarious relationship with the environment.
It’s important to emphasize that Moritsugu collects her canvases from trees that have naturally fallen or trees that would otherwise be turned into mulch.
Everyone who would like to see this profound art project in person, visit New York’s Littlejohn Contemporary from November 12th to December 12th, 2015.