Lusus Naturae

TNL Annex presents

Lusus Naturae

by Gail Wagner 

January 5th-January 28th

The New Local Annex

713 Pearl St. Boulder, CO

Open for viewing Fridays and Saturdays 1-5pm and by appointment.


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 Where is the line between plant and animal, beauty and ugliness, chaos and order? Gail Wagner questions dualities in her latest exhibition of acrylic paintings, Lusus Naturae. Combining abstractions from different organisms, Wagner invents her own “freaks of nature.” Unclassifiable creatures, “scientific” symbols, and decorative patterns merge together in a harmony that bridges distinctions between opposing worlds.

Artist Statement
In my work, I challenge boundaries. Where is the line between plant and animal, beauty and ugliness, chaos and order? I am intrigued by how we, as humans, try to make sense of oppositional ideas, and I use imagery from the natural world to investigate.
I am captivated by organisms that cross boundaries and resist categorization. Carnivorous plants, motile algae, living fossils, and photosynthetic animals are a few of the label-defying creatures that fit this description. Other examples come from entities that have similar morphology but live in different biomes, ecosystems or environments. Parallel forms can also span the boundaries of scale and appear in the microscopic, macroscopic and beyond.
I question dualistic assumptions through the manipulation of attraction and repulsion. The inherent beauty of leaves and flowers contrasts with worms, tentacles, and other disconcerting imagery. Unsettling forms are depicted with vibrant colors and pleasing patterns. Looming sinister figures commingle with "scientific" symbols and light-hearted comic-book shapes. Traditional norms of beauty and ugliness are thus perturbed.
Furthermore, I use contrasting styles to subvert an absolutist approach to classifying and categorizing. Chaotic areas are juxtaposed against pattern and order. Drips, water marks, and other chance-driven effects underlie controlled line drawings. Flatness/space, realism/abstraction, and symbols/volumes are other combinations I frequently use. No single style or point-of-view dominates.