On a Classic Nitrogen Afternoon
In “The Wild Kindness,” David Berman sings of loneliness amidst the ephemeral beauty of nature. The song’s emphasis on singularity and time are reflected in the drawings of Andy Mister. Acknowledging these shared concerns, Mister has titled his second solo exhibition with Hirschl & Adler Modern, On a Classic Nitrogen Afternoon, after a favorite lyric of Berman’s. The artist continues his series of images based on flowers and nature-based photography and these eight new drawings push Mister into more complex and challenging pictorial and conceptual territory. Here, Mister moves beyond how information and meaning are created or lost during the act of “copying,” and focuses on how a work of art is “read.”
“The disruption between universal and personal interpretations of a work of art is a paradox mostly associated with abstraction,” says the artist, “but how does it work in representational work?” To answer this, Mister treats the construction of his drawings with more specificity to highlight certain dichotomies: color and black, general and specific. Brightly colored backgrounds in works like The Sad Thing About Life Is and Everest (Permanent Green Light) are balanced by the black of the artist’s carbon pencil and charcoal, their exuberance subdued by the heaviness of the image in the foreground. Mister selects his imagery from ubiquitous sources: the flowers in Evening come from a gardening catalogue; the images of Mt. Everest from an old, commercially printed book about the mountain. Conventionality is offset by how the images are interpreted. The subjective nature of art undoes the common acceptance of the image itself. Ultimately, Mister answers his question of paradox with another question: A viewer sees a picture of a mountain or a flower, but how does that individual interpret the drawing?
Reliance on a singular experience is what endears Berman’s song to Andy Mister. The time one spends with nature, or with a drawing, allows for a unique experience. By sharing these unique experiences with others, we open ourselves to greater truths.