What's on Los Angeles | Index

by Jody Zellen

May 4, 2023

Pam Posey
April 15 - May 13, 2023

Pam Posey

Observing: the trees that line the path during a walk in the woods; the distant view of a mountain through clouds; the light on a branch arched over a pond. These are the kinds of things Pam Posey notices and captures in her magnificent paintings. The modest-sized oils record a mood and a sense of place and though representational, are not hyper-real. They are thoughtful impressions that depict the wonders of nature and how they are transformed from lived experiences into memories that come alive once again as paint on canvas.

While each work stems from observation, they are in fact created in the studio and become fictions — places reimagined. Titled Thereabout, her exhibition of more than twenty paintings completed between 2020 and 2023 offer an intimate glimpse into the natural world. It is easy to get lost in Headland (2023) following the criss-cross of wild grass along a bluff that overlooks a body of water extending toward a gray horizon. The foreground of the painting is an array of tufts of brown and green toned grass pointing in all directions and stopping where the bluff intersects with the water above. The composition is comprised of three planes of color — gray (sky), blue (water) and green/brown (grass) that cohere to suggest an infinite expanse.

Point of Return (2022) is about light. Here, the eye moves down a shadowy tree-lined path to the center of the image— a bright spot where leaves sparkle, illuminated by a patch of sun. The leaves and branches at the edge of the painting form a darker circle that surrounds the light. Where the path ultimately leads is unknown but the luminescence radiates a positive aura. Soothsayers Mountain (2022) and Displacement (2020) are more expressionist images. Soothsayers Mountain captures a hilltop encased in clouds presented as a textured field of connected and undulating, irregular forms, whereas Displacement focuses on the explosive spray of a raging waterfall. Here, Posey brackets the turbulence with two groupings of delicate plants, contrasting the dispersion with elements of calm.

In Island in the Subjunctive (2022), a cluster of plants float like an island in a blue-green pond. Brightly painted stems extend up from a small patch of green reflecting light as well as casting a subtle shadow below. In the distance, Posey defines a darker green forest — as a series of expressive brush strokes — at the far edge of the pond. The island is a microcosm and a metaphor for a feeling of isolation, simultaneously welcomed and dreaded.

Rather than install the works along a fixed line, the paintings are placed at different heights on the gallery walls paralleling the way one views nature — up close as well as from a distance, at, above and below eye level. The installation draws viewers to each work as a separate entity. Together, they create a narrative about the beauty and power of nature and offer a respite from endless media bombardment. Posey does not turn away from the political, but rather explores conflict and resolve as it manifests in the natural world.