A couple of weeks ago I found myself in Stevens Point, WI, visiting with my sister and enjoying a pub-style lunch at an outdoor table, where I noticed the sidewalk sign for Gallery Q Artists Cooperative a couple of doors down. A few weeks back I had gotten a postcard announcing their upcoming show of local artist Alexander Landerman’s work, and a friend had mentioned his name to me on more than one occasion. So when I happened to be so close to a solo exhibition of his drawings, I couldn’t resist.
Landerman’s drawings are large, which is difficult to express in a blog post, but important because we associate illustration with being small, book-size maybe. The drawings at Gallery Q were installed salon style in their cavernous historic building with its high ceilings and clean white walls. I was pleased to see a fair number of red dots. The artists’ monochromatic drawings popped in this space, placing a row of birds in flight closest to the ceiling, and images of foxes and hares nearer to eye level. The artist combines ink and charcoal in tight lines with dynamic washes. The dynamic quality was what struck me most about these drawings.
“Wildlife painting” gets a bad rap in contemporary art by virtue of the fact that it’s essentially not. It’s about as traditional as you can get, like landscapes and portraiture, and is also commonly calm, even stoic, and fundamentally decorative. But Landerman takes a fresh look at the subject of wildlife in terms of the inner life of living creatures.
Concerned with society’s attitudes toward animals, especially when viewed in their various roles in the wild, as pets, or as food sources, he approaches his subject as a way to “encourage a reconnection” and appreciation for animals. His artist statement explains that his interest lies in highlighting how animals, insects, and plants are increasingly overlooked or mistreated. As we humans vie for more space and more control over land, food, and population, these concerns are ever more significant over time, And in Landerman’s drawings, the tension is palpable between predator and prey, or the struggle for supremacy.
In addition to this latest exhibition, which is open through 28 August at Gallery Q, Landerman has been commissioned to paint a mural in Stevens Point through the Arts Alliance of Portage County. I’ll be following up as he works on this mural and look forward to posting an update or two as progress is made!
Alexander Landerman graduated with a BFA from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point with an emphasis in drawing and letterpress. He currently lives and works in Stevens Point. Please find more work and information at alexanderlanderman.com.