Oftentimes it is when the artist is most unpredictable and chooses the unexpected that the audience stops and pays attention and the work has a chance to resonate. Modern West Fine Art is currently hosting an exhibition focused on the recent art of Lenka Konopasek. For those who know Konopasek’s work, which tends to deal with the collision of man and nature, one might be surprised at the presentation at a gallery whose focus is Southwestern art with a classically Modern aesthetic. The works in the show, curated by gallery manager Lauren DeHerrera, combine Konopasek’s familiar subjects of mass destruction, as well as a less familiar theme of rodeo cowboys astride bulls. Is there reason for this unpredictable and unexpected pairing, and if so, what might there be to resonate?
In “Targeting,” we see a strongly vertical canvas, emphasizing the structure of a town being consumed by flame and smoke, as a tower of billowing blues and oranges and white fill the blackness of a sky in a painting where all elements are rendered with a stylized ambiance. Says Konopasek in her statement, “It is a struggle of wills where human structures are being reclaimed and handicapped by nature’s might.” In “Rodeo Picture Show,” we find an image more stylized for the sake of dramatic forcefulness, and the same elements of surreal color surrounded by black. It is a cowboy struggling to stay upon a raging bull. Says the artist “I portray the rider as well as the animals in their struggle to overpower each other.” What resonates here is that in both subjects, man is played against nature, and for Konopasek, the result is inevitably chaos.