On May 7, 2011, Sonnabend Gallery will open an exhibition of new works by Clifford Ross: “From Landscape to Imagination”
The tightly focused exhibition traces the artist’s creative arc from one of his groundbreaking high-resolution “Mountain” photographs, “Mountain XIII” through his “Mountain Redux” series, which portrays the mountain in an abstract mode far from the exacting realism of where his exploration began.
The exhibition features an installation of “Harmonium Mountain”, an imaginary, computer-generated landscape with an original score by Philip Glass, an official selection of the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival. The process of creating the prints in this exhibition, which included advanced digital manipulation of the original hyper-realistic image, became the conceptual and technical basis for the video. The video traces the artists exploration and fascination with Mount Sopris from his initial perception of it, to his emotional and spiritual reaction to it, and illustrates Ross’ now well established path from realism to dramatic abstraction.
“Mountain XIII” itself is a re-invention of the 19th century landscape tradition practiced by Hudson River School painters Frederick Church and Albert Bierstadt and photographers such as Carleton Watkins – all by way of Ross’s deep involvement with traditional photographic techniques and his own unique digital post-production technology. The resulting photographs encourage the scrutiny of even the smallest details in his large-scale landscapes, even as one might scrutinize a daguerreotype.
Mid-19th century paper negatives by British photographer John Murray of the TajMahal inspired Ross’ radical re-interpretation of nature in the “Mountain Redux” series and in “Harmonium Mountain”. In them Ross found the impetus to look for the essence of his original “Mountain” images, specifically “Mountain XIII”, and then fracture his images into smaller elements and re-combine them using computer technology into a dazzling array of imagined structures – the prints on custom made Japanese paper similar to the 19th century handmade paper used by Murray, the video with cutting edge digital projection. In pursuit of his art, Ross maintains a commitment to the craftsmanship of the past while pushing to the front of 21st century innovation.
“The Mountain Redux series and my new video work, including Harmonium Mountain, attempt to depict my subjective reaction to nature through the specific landscape of Colorado’s Mount Sopris. Both reflect an effort to reach a different truth than the one I reached through the extreme realism of ‘Mountain XIII,” said Ross.