Daily Art Moment: Adam Sorensen

Tabernacle, Adam Sorensen, 78 x 119 inches, oil on linen. A horizontal rectangular painting depicting a surreal landscape scene of mountains, waterfalls and streams. The upper half of the painting shows steep mountains and cascading waterfalls in the distance. Each mountain is composed of smaller mounds heaped upon one another to form the larger mountain. Each portion is greatly shaded and highlighted in dark charcoals, rusty reds, oranges and golden yellows. The water appears to be bright white with very pale blue. The mountains and waterfalls fill the left top of the work and slope down at the right side revealing a small bit of sky with rusty red clouds and a pale blue and bright white sky. The mountains continue off to the right creating a distant valley with a stream emanating from it. The lower half of the work shows more waterfalls and streams in the foreground with smaller mounds in the same colors as the larger mountains with the addition of greens and pink stripes. At center left a fallen log in charcoal can be seen laying across a stream.

I was deep in my love for Frederic Church when I painted Tabernacle, and the sky is a direct homage to Twilight in the Wilderness (@clevelandmuseumofart). It was the idea of the heroic painter romanticizing the American West that intrigued me, both sincerely and with a sense of humor. All the embellishing and drama really speak to me. In fact, it’s those gestures towards painting the sublime, that allowed me to make Tabernacle. The scale, the imagined color and forms, and the sense of space are all rooted in his paintings. There’s also a love of Hiroshige in there as well. In fact, my connection to painting the landscape started with these two artists. I feel like my images are inspired by paintings before they are inspired by the actual landscape.

Adam Sorensen

Adam Sorensen’s Tabernacle is a vibrant landscape of rolling mountains and cascading waterfalls that spill to the foreground. Mounds of neon forms are included with dense charcoal blacks, and the streaming waters blindingly bright. This imagined landscape feels at once vibrant and alarming, heightening our visual perception. Though Sorensen notes the inspiration of the Hudson River School painters as well as Hiroshige and Hokusai, certainly the Western Cascades upon his move to Portland in the 1990s has offered some influence as well. Featured in Sorenson’s solo exhibition as part of Portland Art Museum’s APEX exhibition series (September 2011–January 2012), it is gratifying to revisit this bright and lush landscape painting in the collection, particularly as we approach the darker, winter season ahead.

Grace Kook-Anderson, The Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Curator of Northwest Art

Adam Sorensen (American, born 1976). Tabernacle, 2011. Oil on linen. Museum Purchase: Funds provided by The Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Endowment for Northwest Art, Northwest Art Council, Sarah Miller Meigs, Mary and Spencer Dick, Jon and Andrea Walker, Jim Defeo, Dorie Vollum, and Kim Richter, 2011.172 © Adam Sorensen.

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