Carla Klein explores greenhouse interiors across Europe through sweeping, panoramic lenses in her seventh solo show at Tanya Bonakdar gallery.
Klein’s work is a mediation on juxtapositions: nature and artifice, objective and subjective. Her subject matter is nature dominating a space where it’s meant to be confined. Low vantage points combined with large scale, life-sized botany give each painting a sense of power. Klein’s deliberate exclusion of humans contribute to the timelessness of her work. Her cool-toned, reflective landscapes feel utopian and futuristic, while her warm, sepia depictions of banana leaf trees are reminiscent of a prehistoric past. The collision of nature and artifice is epitomized in one painting split horizontally- the top half is naturalistic but the bottom resembles a print being looked at in a darkroom, overwhelmed by a vibrant red and drawing attention to the synthetic process of photography.
Klein’s technique isn’t particularly groundbreaking; her style is relatively traditional and painterly, yet the architectural elements of her converging lines and her dramatic use of one-point perspective feels modern, attracting the viewer into her picture plane. What didn’t quite resonate with me were the sets of slightly different paintings rendered from the same photograph. The intention behind making duplicate paintings was not at all clear, and because they differed in composition but were identical in subject and palette, the diptychs made each individual painting feel less significant.
Although Klein’s paintings seem to transcend time, the themes present in her work address contemporary issues of today, questioning the role of nature in our increasingly artificial and technology-dependent world.