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Marion Estes
at Galerie Anais, Santa Monica, California
Recommendation by Betty Ann Brown

In her “Lost Horizons” series, Merion Estes deploys her considerable technical skills as a painter, her collagist delight in patterns and her passionately engaged feminist politics to mix visual seduction with ecological warnings. She begins most of the works with ripped reproductions of ancient Chinese landscape paintings taken from wall calendars, then adds layers of fabric and decorative paper. Finally, she covers the surface with poetically balanced expressionist paint strokes--drips, splatters, splashes of pigment--and inserts carefully rendered images of wild animals. Some of the animals are ghostly white, others wounded. In one piece, helicopters race across the horizon. In another, an explosion shatters the pastoral beauty. Estes takes the title of her series from the 1937 film “Lost Horizon,” a fable about a group of travelers who find Shangri-la, a utopian society in the Himalayas. Romantic and nostalgic, the film combined shots of a set constructed in Burbank with black and white documentary footage of an actual avalanche in China. Much like Estes’s paintings, “Lost Horizon” merged images of nature suffering destruction with fabrications of the world as we yearn to see it.

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