English artists David Nash, Thomas Joshua Cooper and Andy Goldsworthy tap traditional ties to the mystery and exuberance of the land. Every nook of this beautifully cohesive group show breathes an almost mystical connection with nature.
Cooper makes exquisitely still photographs of brambled thickets in Glasgow, rocky sea coves on Scotland’s remote Isle of Iona and waterfalls in Iceland. Often shot at close range, the black-and-white works are limited to dark tones with so little contrast that scenes seem veiled and enclosed. Photos are at once simple and lyrically powerful. Titles refer to “dreaming,” the complex world view of Australian aborigines who mentally record and believe themselves to preserve the land’s topography by reenacting myths of nature’s creation. Like aboriginal sand paintings whose abstracted dots give you a sense of passing over terrain from high above, Cooper’s work takes you right into and through nature, as if from the visual vantage point of an animal instinctively at one with the land.
A more playful but equally strong connection comes through Nash’s raw sculptures. Made from lumber or tree trunks that have been selectively charred, painstakingly scored or left to bend and bow with the elements, works like “Three Emerging Vessels” are quite remarkable.
Goldsworthy makes enormous life savers of entwined twigs, mounds of color-coded leaves and stacked shards. Photographs are the only records of this work, which is done in materials that weather quickly. These documents speak to the transience of man’s artifice and the durability of nature’s art. Goldsworthy shows sun-seared color photos recording totemic shapes fashioned from new fallen snow in the isolated expanses of Ellemere Island. Enormous wheels of pure white North Pole powder are photographed from such a distance that they look like Cheerios floating in breakfast cream. (L.A. Louver Gallery, 55 N. Venice Blvd., to Aug. 5.)