Hamiltonian Gallery is pleased to present Tropical Obstructions, an exhibition of new works by Hamiltonian Fellows Jessica van Brakle and Joshua Wade Smith. Through painting, sculpture and installation, both artists present landscapes of tropical foliage, water and islands to explore what affect human consciousness has on the perception of nature, and to question the limits of our vision and understanding. Tropical Obstructions will run from April 21 – May 26, 2012, with an opening reception on Saturday, April 21st, from 7-9 pm.

JOSHUA WADE SMITH designs athletic challenges, which he performs on large sculptural installations that he creates. Central to this new body of work including drawing, sculpture and installation, is a wooden elliptic table encompassed by an attached ladder. In between the rungs of the ladder are images of water, sunsets, and islands on the horizon, interspersed with mirrors. With his body parallel to the floor, Smith traverses the perimeter of the table with purpose and strength, and continues the loop until he tires. While catching glimpses of himself in the strips of mirror, Smith is repeatedly faced with images too close to recognize.

Smith positions the image as an obstacle in which he physically navigates in effort to explore represented landscapes, and subsequently, modern-day notions of the Sublime. In Tropical Obstructions, Smith specifically references islands and floating vessels, and is interested in the participant’s static tunnel-vision perspective observing a distant goal. While performing highly-staged physical feats, Joshua Wade Smith aims to find new ways to visually move through pictures, and challenges the authenticity and integrity of images.

JESSICA VAN BRAKLE’S newest suite of works combine painting and drawing techniques to illustrate far-off or obstructed voyeuristic perspectives of landscapes comprised of tropical foliage, Ferris wheels, basketball hoops and cranes. The paintings, mainly white canvas with black ink and graphite, also illustrate van Brakle’s return to color, albeit economically. Van Brakle strategically plays with figure-ground relationships, interchanging focus from the positive to the negative, foreground to background, in effort to challenge the impetus of making pictures.

Jessica van Brakle’s works pair rectilinear shapes with organic forms, reinforcing the primary theme of man versus nature. For example, from an overbuilt basketball mount hangs the remnants of a chain net. The surrounding silhouettes of seemingly lush foliage and overgrown jungle create an obstruction between viewer and subject. This underpins the visual dichotomy between occupied space and empty space, as well as the relationship of conflicting worlds that co-exist in one psychological space.

Please join us for an artist talk with Jessica van Brakle and Joshua Wade Smith on Thursday, May 17, 2012, at 7:00 pm.