Carla Klein explores greenhouse interiors across Europe through sweeping, panoramic compositions in her seventh solo show at Tanya Bonakdar gallery. Klein’s work is a mediation on opposites: nature and artifice, objectivity and subjectivity. Her subject matter is nature dominating a space where it’s meant to be confined. Low vantage points combined with life-sized botany give each painting a sense of power. Klein’s deliberate exclusion of humans contribute to her work feeling both old and new at the same time; her cool-toned landscapes surrounded by glass feel utopian and futuristic, while her warm, sepia depictions of banana trees are reminiscent of a prehistoric past.
The collision of nature and artifice is epitomized in one painting split horizontally- the top half is rendered naturalistically but the bottom is a vibrant red, resembling a print being looked at under the harsh red light of a darkroom. Klein’s jarring use of red draws attention to the synthetic process of photography, perhaps serving as a reminder that her paintings are created from the use of photographs, not just memory.
Klein’s technique isn’t particularly groundbreaking, 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. Although Klein’s paintings seem to transcend time, they undoubtedly question the role of nature in today’s increasingly artificial and technology-dependent world.