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Wexner Center for the Arts Presents Alexis Rockman. A Fable for Tomorrow

The Wexner Center for the Arts presents Alexis Rockman: A Fable for Tomorrow, on view through December 30, 2011. The exhibition is the first major survey of the artist’s work, with nearly 40 paintings that trace his career from early works in the mid-1980s to 2009, including several of his monumentally scaled paintings.

Alexis Rockman (b. 1962) has been depicting the natural world with virtuosity and wit for more than two decades. He was one of the first contemporary artists to build his career around exploring environmental issues, from evolutionary biology and genetic engineering to deforestation and climate change. His work expresses deep concerns about the world’s fragile ecosystems and the tension between nature and culture. These concerns are communicated through vivid, even apocalyptic, imagery. Rockman has garnered attention for embracing these issues, as well as for the epic quality of his projects.

The title of the exhibition, A Fable for Tomorrow, is taken from the opening chapter of Rachel Carson’s influential 1962 book Silent Spring. In it, Carson combines two seemingly incompatible literary genres—mythic narrative and factual reportage. Rockman approaches his paintings with a similar intent. He achieves his vision through a synthesis of fantasy and empirical fact, using sources as varied as natural history, botanical illustrations, museum dioramas, science fiction films, realist art traditions dating back to the Renaissance, and firsthand field study.

“Rockman is no stranger to the Wexner Center,” notes Sherri Geldin, the center’s director. “Large-scale reproductions of two of the artist’s wallscapes (Manifest Destiny and Evolution) were on view in the Wexner Center’s lobby in the 2004–05 season, and he returned last year to participate in our annual Director’s Dialogue on Art and Social Change: Climate and Culture. Alexis is a highly accomplished and respected figure whom we are delighted to welcome back to the center and to Ohio State, where environmental research permeates multiple academic disciplines.”

The exhibition is organized by Joanna Marsh, The James Dicke Curator of Contemporary Art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, where it was on view November 19, 2010–May 8, 2011.

Wexner Center for the Arts
1871 N. High St.
Columbus, OH 43210

Image: Alexis Rockman
Bromeliad: Kaieteur Falls, 1994
Oil and lacquer on wood
40 x 32 in.
Nestlé USA
© Alexis Rockman
Photo courtesy of the artist

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