Rob Reynolds: Overview
29 April – 4 June 2021
Anthony Meier Fine Arts is pleased to announce Rob Reynolds: Overview, the artist’s second solo exhibition with the gallery. With a focus on ecology and human-caused climate change, Reynolds projects seek to make the unseen visible. The exhibition is accompanied by an essay by Tobias Rees (Director, Berggruen Institute), and an interview between the artist and Emma Cline (Author, The Girls).
Overview takes its name from the overview effect– –a total shift in consciousness typically experienced by astronauts when they see Earth from space for the first time. This is evident in Reynolds’ Earthrise paintings, which are based on the famous photo taken by William Anders, an astronaut on the Apollo 8 mission in 1968 as they were heading back to earth from a trip around the moon. It is one of the most famous images in the history of photography, and credited as having launched the ecology movement for many environmentalists. The exhibition is also an ‘ overview’ of Reynolds’ work over the past ten years.
For his first exhibition at the gallery in 2011, Reynolds debuted a series of paintings that sit squarely in the intersection of abstraction and representation. Often overlaying his landscapes with bold text reminiscent of advertising, Reynolds plays his subjects against art historical movements such as minimalism and pop art. “Sometimes the text has a direct relationship and points to a book or a place that it’s lifted from or refers to, and sometimes it’s deeper, or oblique and spontaneous,” notes Reynolds.
Over the past decade, this body of work has developed into a larger series of iceberg paintings, which seemingly look like stock photographs but are layered in meaning. “His icebergs calve because of rising temperatures, they float in a sea heated by greenhouse gases, discharging drinking water into the sea, where it has the tendency to sink and disrupt marine ecologies and currents that are highly sensitive to changes in temperature and salinity,” notes Tobias Rees.
“Indeed, if one gets close enough, one can see, and feel, how his icebergs enroll humans in a story of Earth that exceeds them by billions of years, bringing human action into view in the language of geochemistry, as if they were saying, ‘ No, there is nothing special about you.’”
One work, Magnolia (2021), depicts the magnolia tree that stood on the south lawn of the Whitehouse for almost 200 years, which was cut down a year into the Trump presidency. Initially painted by Andrew Jackson in memory of his late wife, the Magnolia tree has greeted countless dignitaries over the past two centuries. It was later depicted in the $20 bill, and President Obama famously gave a seedling to the people of Cuba. “I was thinking of it as a kind of witness tree,” notes the artist in his interview with Emma Cline. “Maybe time caught up with it.”
While Reynolds’ paintings depict paralyzing, apocalyptic events and the realization of non-human agency over the natural world, they are always imbued with hope. “The effect of Reynolds’ paintings is that both humans and nature cease to exist –– cease to exist as being the seeing thing, cease to exist as indexes of a sublime nature and what emerges is a new kind of beauty,” notes Rees. “Instead both humans and nature become something else, something still tentative, explorative, experimental: they become planetary.”
About Rob Reynolds:
Rob Reynolds (b. 1966) lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. Reynolds attended Cornell University, School of Art, Architecture and Planning from 1985-86; he also attended the School of The Boston Museum of Fine Arts from 1986-87; received a Bachelor of Arts from Brown University in 1990; and attended the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program in 1992.
Reynolds has had solo exhibitions at Anthony Meier Fine Arts, San Francisco, CA; Buzzer 30, Queens NY; David Winton Bell Gallery, Brown University, Providence, RI; Landau Gallery, Belmont Hill School, Belmont, MA; LAXART, Los Angeles, CA; Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, CA; NYEHAUS, New York, NY; Ochi Gallery, Ketchum, ID and ROVE/Kenny Schachter Contemporary, London, UK.
About Tobias Rees:
Tobias Rees is the Director of the Transformations of the Human program at the Berggruen Institute and a Fellow of the Canadian Institute For Advanced Research (CIFAR). Tobias Rees studied anthropology and philosophy in Germany and neurobiology in France and received his Ph.D. in anthropology from U.C. Berkeley (2006). Rees’ expertise lies at the intersection of anthropology, art history, the history of science, and the philosophy of modernity and concerns the study of knowledge/thought. More specifically, he is interested in how categories that order knowledge mutate over time –– because of humans, microbes, snails, the weather, AI or other events –– and in what effects these mutations have on conceptions of the human/the real.
About Emma Cline:
Emma Cline is the author of The Girls and the winner of the Plimpton Prize. Her story collection Daddy was published in 2020. The Girls was an international bestseller and was a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award, the First Novel Prize, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the winner of the Shirley Jackson Award. In 2017, Cline was named one of Granta’s Best Young American Novelists. Her short stories and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, The New York Times, Granta and Tin House.
Rob Reynolds: Overview
April 29 – June 4, 2021
Anthony Meier Fine Arts
1969 California St, San Francisco, CA 94109
Evan Lenox, Senior Account Executive