It's hard not to be swept up in the majesty of Caspar David Friedrich's iconic 1818 painting "Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog"—the grandiosity of the landscape below, the drama of sublime accomplishment. The picture encapsulates emotions that have fascinated humans since the beginning of time: the idea of the summit (both literal and figurative) has always been a means of questioning, and searching for, nothing less than the meaning of life.
Friedrich's painting (not featured in this exhibition) is just one of the works that interests curator Neville Wakefield, who has organized an exhibition entirely dedicated to the idea of the mountain. "I've always found it interesting that mountains are a testament to the presence of God, but also the absence of God," Wakefield says. "They're secular in the sense that they are about human achievements and they're godly in the sense that you aspire to these almost inconceivable heights." The exhibition, Mount Analogue, faces these human challenges, even taking its name from René Daumal's unfinished novel, which tells the tale of an impossible-to-reach summit.
Opening tomorrow, the show occupies Aspen's seasonal ski, bike, and hiking shop, Performance Ski. "The store is this portal into the exterior landscape," Wakefield says. "It didn't seem appropriate to do it in a white cube space. I like the idea that the show's environment has the residue and history of the pursuit of the sublime."
Works in the show range from the fantastical, such as the unusual piece by Richard Prince—a series of canvases that connect the climbing routes of several famous mountains, forming an imaginary summit—to the literal, such as a painting by Mathew Cerletty, which depicts a jacket by The North Face. Other pieces in the show take a more psychotropic approach to the mountains, alluding to Colorado's counterculture. Examples include Jac Leirner's "Skin," which is made from cigarette rolling papers, and Fred Tomaselli's pill-embedded painting, "Wow and Flutter."
"The mountains tie together the interior and exterior landscapes," says Wakefield. "What we can reach and what we can't."
Now, get a closer look at the show!
Mount Analogue will be on view from tomorrow through August 14 at Performance Ski (614 East Durant Ave, Aspen, CO).
The exhibition is presented by Darrow Contemporary. For more information on the art advisory service, see darrowcontemporary.com.