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Cadogan Contemporary opens an exhibition of recent and new works by painter Ilana Manolson
Ilana Manolson, Yala, 2018-2019, acrylic on yupo paper on board, 37in x 48in © the artist, courtesy of Cadogan Contemporary.

LONDON.- Cadogan Contemporary is presenting Chance Encounters, an exhibition of recent and new works by the acclaimed Canadian American painter Ilana Manolson. Her first London presentation, the show is comprised of more than 20 acrylic paintings executed between the years 2018 and 2019, in which the artist moves between representation and abstraction to capture the essence of nature.

Manolson offers the viewer an intimate and profound knowledge of the natural world – a trained botanist, she began painting while working at Canada’s National Park system in Alberta, where her office became a de facto art studio. Eventually, her passion and talent led her to study printmaking and painting at one of America’s most prestigious art schools, The Rhode Island School of Design.

On her relationship between art and nature, she says: ‘I see being a naturalist and being a painter as being very much related in that you are looking at an environment closely, looking over time and looking for the details that explain the larger whole.’

Combining abstract and figurative elements, Manolson challenges traditional depictions of nature in art, bringing together precise observations of plants and organic matter and then, through bold and fluid brushstrokes, creating compositions that are both ethereal and grounded. Within this paradox lay the painting’s great allure.

While the artist began her career painting en plein air over twenty years ago, her recent works are now made from recollection and memory wherein she returns to the studio with sketches, objects and ideas. The distance this offers allows the paintings to reflect the entirety of a place rather than portraying any singular scene, in which the artist develops an invented reflection of a landscape.

Hunter (2019), for example, is typical of the way the artist combines large abstract brushstrokes with intricate details to offer multiple perspectives on a flat plane. The depth of the piece matures as the brushwork flows down the painting, from the suggestion of distant mountains and hills at the top of the composition, down to the greens and yellows of forests and meadows, finishing with a saturated blue and green pool of water circling a cluster of rocks. This fluidity reveals the artist’s skill in visually communicating a story of a place in its entirety whilst also illustrating the way in which all of nature is connected.

Says Freddie Burness, Director of Cadogan Contemporary: ‘We are very privileged to be able to be showing this extraordinary body of paintings. Ilana’s is not just visually beautiful, revealing an immense talent for composition, colour and form, but it also strikes many contemplative notes, inviting the viewer to marvel at the transcendent sublimity of nature, but also its fragility, and their own place within it.’

Ilana Manolson was born in 1956 in Calgary, Alberta. She received a degree from Goddard College where she studied botany and art (1978), and a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design (1982). She is a recipient of a Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Fellowship for Painting, a St. Botolph Artist Grant, and an Artists Foundation Installation Grant, to name a few. Institutional exhibitions of her work include the Danforth Museum of Art, Southern New Hampshire University, Tufts University Art Gallery, Concord Art Museum, Boston Public Library, Endicott College, Beverly Gordon College, Ballin Castle Museum, Regis College, and the De Cordova Museum, among others. Her work is in the permanent collections of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; De Cordova Museum, Lincoln, MA; Fuller Museum of Art, Brockton, MA; Danforth Museum, Framingham, MA; Boston Public Library, Boston, MA; Boston Athenaeum, Boston, MA; Ballinglen Arts Foundation, Ireland, and the Berkeley Museum of Art, CA, among others. She lives and works in Concord, Massachusetts and Sausalito, California.

She was awarded the Mass Cultural Council Artist Fellowship for Painting in 2018, 2010, 2009 and 2008, as well as the St. Botolph Artist Grant, Boston. Her residencies include the Ballinglen Arts Foundation residency for 2006, 2007, 2008, Yaddo Artist Colony, and Banff School of Fine Arts. She is represented by the Jason McCoy Gallery in New York and Nicola Rukaj Gallery in Toronto.

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