Comments/Context: David Nadel's second installment of wildfire charred, snow covered Montana landscapes introduces a series of small refinements to his already successful visual formula. Like the works from his previous show (in 2011), his newest images begin with arduous hikes to remote areas of unpeopled wilderness and end with miles of forested space compressed into flattened planes of nearly abstract lines. What's different this time is a subtle sense of increased sharpness, where the soft haziness of the early works has been traded in for a slightly tighter and crisper aesthetic.
Nadel's trees run the gamut from thin and spindly to dense and furry, depending on his distance from them and their natural clustering. Long views turn the trees into hairy bands and layers of medium grey that settle into the mounded hollows and angled valleys of the mountainous terrain. Closer in compositions are made of striking, all-over verticals, the trees striped into high contrast minimalist lines or feathered like bottle brushes. Against the blank whiteness of the snow, the endless repetition of the textural trees becomes meditative, the enveloping monochrome environment broken only by the isolated splashes of color of a lone, defiant regrown evergreen or the thin red stems of dormant undergrowth.
The best of Nadel's new landscapes have an almost mathematical rigor and precision, where the trees are dead-on straight and the lines run up like zips, creating a humming screen of verticals. It's these back and forth battles between organic and abstract that are fresh and exciting here, giving the works an added layer of formal interest beyond their obvious natural grandeur.
Collector's POV: The works on view are priced as follows: the 16x20 prints are $1500 each and the 40x50 prints are $4000 each, a small increase from his last show. Nadel's work has not yet entered the secondary markets, so gallery retail is likely the best/only option for those collectors interested in following up.
Rating: * (one star) GOOD (rating system described here)
- Review: New Yorker (here)
David Nadel: Burns II
Through March 10th
Sasha Wolf Gallery
70 Orchard Street
New York, NY 10002