Landscape, Minus the Land

Sometimes the best landscape painters forego painting the land entirely.

For the first time in a decade, Candice Eisenfeld, the Arizona-based artist known for rendering the natural world in haunted, mood-stricken dreamscapes, has her feet off the ground. In a fresh series of paintings, which go on display at Circa Gallery this Friday, she casts her ghostly gaze higher, toward the winged creatures that bridge the realm between earth and the heavens.

In other words, she’s put a bird on it.

In Learning To Fly, her newest body of work, Eisenfeld goes aviary, painting densely woven nests, clusters of eggs, and weightless cascades of birds fluttering through the forest. But these aren’t nature works. They’re psychic conductors. As in her earlier landscape work, the vibe is introspective, emotive. Her nests—painstakingly rendered, twig-by-twig—float like spiral galaxies against the infinite space-time of layered washes of acrylic. The birds are often suspended in atmospheric, architectural spaces. And every painting is shot through with spectral light. 

Each is decorative enough to please an interior designer. But they also pulse with the om-like hum of a meditation prompt.

Circa pairs Eisenfeld with acclaimed Boston-based painter Mark Civitaresse (who had his Minneapolis debut at Circa back in 2008), and the two are peas in a pod. In Civitaresse’s hands, even the blandest landscape—say, a field of grass—becomes phantasmagoric. By blending his oils with a bit of wax, he creates a shimmery, mist-like glaze that renders everything a memory. It’s less like he’s painting the natural world as he is painting some subconscious dream of the natural world.

Candice Eisenfeld and Marc Civitarese
Opening reception Friday, 5–8 p.m.
Circa Gallery, 210 N. First St., Mpls.