Eliot Greenwald: Takin’ the Riverboat Out on Snake Lake

January 14, 2021 - February 13, 2021

Harper’s is pleased to announce the representation of Brooklyn-based artist Eliot Greenwald and his solo exhibition of thirteen new oil stick paintings, Takin’ the Riverboat Out on Snake Lake, at Harper’s Apartment in New York City. The gallery is open to the public Thursday through Saturday, 12–6pm; no appointment is necessary to visit.

“A riverboat, by definition, is a vessel intended for river use.  A river boat on a lake is a vessel in the wrong environment; however, just by simply being a boat it will work, survive, maybe even thrive. The difference in environment, in fact, offers more freedom to the vessel.”

Takin’ the Riverboat Out on Snake Lake is a thought experiment in redirecting the contemporary favor for figurative art beyond the expected linear path. Channeling the rebellious spirit of the Dadaists and neo-Dadaists who rejected the logic and aesthetics of their times, Greenwald’s vernacular is condensed and refined to go against the grain of the conventional visual idioms of landscape painting. Vibrant and simple in composition, each piece invariably depicts a car in the night, beaming its headlights through strange and vacant valleys that gently glow underneath ever-present twin planets. The “night car” perpetually moves away from the horizon, towards the viewer, illuminating the road as it rapidly approaches the edge of the canvas. This mysterious but familiar narrative captures the infinite polarities of perspective by supplanting both “self” and “other” in place of the car—a vacillating and contradictory viewing experience, like quantum superposition, that confronts the very idea of one’s existence and reality.

"Is 'Snake Lake' a lake filled with snakes? Is 'snake lake' just another name for a river? Is it a lake that once had a legendary snake experience that no one can really trace the origin of? Is it just satisfying to rhyme two words?”

Rippling out from the oil stick gestures on each surface, the undulating shapes of Greenwald’s canvases allude to a rectangle, as if it were a shape once held. Knobbly and beveled, the edges of each piece lend an object-like quality to the paintings that further implies a sense of passed time. In stark contrast with the fresh and highly saturated marks that feel impressionistic at times, these pseudo-ancient forms remind the viewer to consider time as an element outside of its linear perception. 

The specific vehicle is more or less irrelevant; however, the repetition of the motif as a mantra grounds the otherwise obscure notions presented in Greenwald’s deceptively simple compositions. A particularly apophenic viewer might interpret the patterns within each painting as an invitation to become a passenger in their own fractal dimension. ∞

Eliot Greenwald (b. 1983, Portland, ME) is a self-taught artist currently based in Brooklyn, NY. Selected exhibitions include: 12 Artists, Harper’s, New York (2020); Night Car, Hesse Flatow, New York, (2020); Big Bang, SPRING/BREAK Art Show, New York (2020); PAREIDOLIA, Emmanuel Barbault Gallery, New York (2020); Summer Heat, Ortega y Gasset, Brooklyn, NY (2018); and Year Zero, Cunsthaus/Tempus Projects, Tampa, FL (2018). Greenwald’s work has been featured in various publications, including Artmaze MagARTnewsHyperallergic, and Juxtapoz.