First Street Gallery
Of Lisa Zwerling's last show, Grace Glueck in the New York Times said: "Bucking every contemporary trend you can think of, Lisa Zwerling has produced ... an oddly compelling fantasy-narrative series." Once again Zwerling has painted a mysterious series contemplating life and death, art and nature. Fire, from the benign to the terrifying, is the theme of Zwerling's newest work. Fire images include sunrise, sunset, stars, forest fires, and fireworks. In each landscape there are animals as observers, companions, and participants. There are fewer people in the recent paintings, but as in Zwerling's previous work, the few survivors act out an internal drama.
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"Sunset with Fireworks" depicts a starry night landscape with a female lion and her kill, only the arm and hand of a person barely visible under her. It is Zwerling's first animal attack picture, yet there is no violence. The lioness' dinner is part of the cycle of life: nourishment for some, destruction for others, amid the beauty. The lioness occupies only a tiny piece of the cosmic whole in this large painting (5' x 10'). Far to the right is sunset, the end of a daily cycle, and on the other side fireworks, art appreciatively competing with nature. The painting was began at the American Academy in Rome where Zwerling was a visiting artist last fall. The umbrella pines of Rome stand against the dark sky, only one component of the residency’s influence.
In "Forest Fire" the peacock could be seen as beauty endangered or as the phoenix who rises from fire to be reborn. In "Fire" a woman falls into a pit of fire as two foxes look on. Additionally, four self-portraits as a satyr called "Transplant" humorously fuse the artist and her animal subjects.
From March 10 - May 7, 2000, the Frye Art Museum in Seattle will present a selection of the artist's paintings from the last decade including the current work on fire and "The Four Seasons" from her 1997 show.