Adam Sorensen, Croatoan, (2011), oil on canvas [Portland Art Museum, Portland OR, Sep 3-Jan 1]
Portland Art Museums APEX is a dynamic exhibition program presenting a series of intimate contemporary art exhibits by actively working Northwest artists, including Adam Sorensen. Sorensen migrated to Portland in the late 1990s after graduating from Alfred University, New York. In 2003, he was selected to participate in the Oregon Biennial.
The six paintings featured in his part of the exhibit follow the trajectory of Sorensens signature reinvention of a graphic-landscape world. Sorensens paintings draw inspiration from many visual sources. Pop-culture influences like anime inform the cartoon-like sensibility of his rounded forms and dreamy colours, while 18th- and 19th-century woodblock prints by ukiyo-e artists from the Edo period are clearly referenced in the stylized compositions and treatment of space.
Sorensen deconstructs the landscape into essential elements of water, land, glacial mass and mountains reminiscent of an untouched, uninhabited place in the natural world. His beautiful and fantastical oil paintings are smoothly rendered with a simple dimensionality resulting from the movement of repetitious forms on the picture plane that imply the illusion of volume and atmospheric space. Dense candy-land topographies in surreal glowing palettes emerge from the lens of a digital-era perspective.
The luminous and majestic scenes feel like an artificial conceptualization of a once-idyllic place: a long-gone utopia where breathtaking waterfalls pay homage to landscape tradition coupled with postmodern aesthetics that fuse together the real and imagined.