Forests and Fires is Michigan-born, New York-based artist Peter Sutherland’s first solo museum exhibition, featuring new site-specific work for CAM. Sutherland uses a variety of landscape imagery, from mountain ranges to deciduous forests, to evoke incongruous sensations of awe, danger, and the sublime. Incorporating techniques and materials intrinsic to both photography and painting, his work expands the potential of both media. The artist’s process involves digitally printing photographs onto perforated vinyl, attaching the images onto sterling board, and sealing them with acrylic gel medium. By allowing the particle board’s pattern and commercial branding to emerge through the vinyl, Sutherland’s “paintings” appear pixelated, with a hazy atmospheric quality.
CAM’s Project Wall features two tetraptychs, each depicting dense wooded landscapes. These images appear as a single continuous scene divided into two separate groups; the blank space between them operates as a window or passageway, offering viewers an illusionary point of entry. In the adjacent courtyard, large boulders are sliced in cross-section and affixed with images of a roaring fire. The flames encroach upon the forests’ sensation of calm—a harbinger for environmental destruction. Through his innovative use of materials and process, Sutherland’s practice transforms the traditional landscape genre into a conduit for social commentary. Forests and Fires sets up a dialectical relationship for the viewer, arguing that industrial progress and the natural sublime are fundamentally incompatible.
Peter Sutherland (b. 1976, Ann Arbor, Michigan) lives and works in New York City. Selected solo exhibitions have been held at Gallery Target, Tokyo (2015); the Still House Group, New York (2015, 2014); Galerie Rodolphe Janssen, Brussels (2014); White Cube Gallery, London (2014); Bill Brady KC Gallery, Kansas (2013); and ATM Gallery, New York (2008). Sutherland’s work has been featured in a number of group exhibitions, including shows at the Journal Gallery, New York (2015); the Still House Group, London (2015); Museum Dhont-Dhaenens, Lys, Belgium (2014); and the Nahmad Contemporary, New York (2014).
Peter Sutherland: Forests and Fires is organized for the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis by Jeffrey Uslip, Chief Curator.