December 1, 2008
Off the Grid
A New Yorker’s minimalist landscape paintings draw on elemental forms of the built environment.
What happens when a landscape painter moves to the big city? For Sara Eichner, who settled in New York a decade ago, her paintings took on the details of the streets she traveled through daily—in particular, the sidings of buildings in her Williamsburg, Brooklyn, neighborhood. Eichner’s “siding samples” explore the forms and colors of these workaday facades. When they are displayed in groups, she says, the “shifting colors, planes, and points of view suggest the rhythm of urban blocks from building to building and vantage point to vantage point.”
On the page, Eichner’s paintings can resemble a mere printed pattern, which is misleading. “They’re very much handmade, and when you look at them in person, that’s evident,” she says. “It gives them a lot more texture, and I think it humanizes the pattern and kind of brings it back to a personal experience.” The paintings also toy with perspective in intriguing ways, contrasting a minimalist vocabulary with one-point perspective, the graphical device that was often employed in Renaissance painting to create the illusion of depth and three-dimensionality.
To achieve this effect, Eichner uses pencil grids as guides. In her latest paintings—on view at New York’s Sears Peyton Gallery—she has left the grids in the final work, giving her more room to play with composition, color, and line. What may seem like a small embellishment to the layperson has added a layer of complexity that Eichner says she will continue to explore in future work. “I actually feel like I’m just sort of scratching into it,” she says.
Plane Equilibrium is at Sears Peyton Gallery through December 20; 210 Eleventh Ave., Ste. 802, New York, (212) 966-7469, www.searspeyton.com.