In its antiquated definition, the vivarium existed for the study of animals and plants. Vivarium, Mary Lou Zelazny’s fifth solo exhibition at the Carl Hammer Gallery, presents her own studies of the plant world. These pictorial taxonomies of re-imagined flora manifest ideas that have been germinating for several decades; ideas extracted out of an extensive series of now dispersed flower paintings from the 1990s and nurtured through Zelazny’s continuous practice of plein-air landscape painting.
The works on display here are collaged from a monoprint process emphasizing the randomness generated by automatism. Voluminous piles of accumulated monoprint material, not unlike shed leaves, have been scrupulously and deviously reassembled, creating tree portraits with a quiver and a tremor simultaneously familiar and uncanny.
Cut flower bouquets have been produced using the same technique, but here some humor intrudes —a swipe at the futile human attempt to bring amputated nature indoors; to transplant the dizzying force of a life from its habitat into ours.