In Review | The Finite Realities of Christopher Russell’s ‘Ersatz Infinities’ / CRAVE

Christopher Russell, "The Falls XXX" (2016).

Christopher Russell, “The Falls XXX” (2016).

Christopher Russell manipulates natural landscapes, messing with the viewer’s ideas of reality. In his solo exhibition Ersatz Infinities at Mark Moore Gallery, the Portland-based artist wanders through a series of landscape photographs, heavily manipulating to the point of near-abstraction. He creates pigment prints which he scratches into with a razor. Such is typical of Russell’s work, which takes nature and the landscape as the starting point for visual explorations.

This series of new work is tightly woven and expertly hung, fitting perfectly into the smaller artist project room that is connected to the larger main gallery. There’s a lo-fi, late-80’s video game quality to some of these paintings; Pac-Man comes to mind, even. In “The Falls XXV”, a mountain pokes its way up from the bottom of this vertical rectangle. Large circular snowflakes the size of pebbles don’t drift from above, but instead appear frozen mid-air. In “Falls XXVI”, that same image is visible, but it is further zoomed out, with a broad horizon line separating the mountaintop and the sky. It seems as if there is a dead zone where no snowflakes would ever fall, yet the mountain tip is colored a stark white. Other works in this series focus on familiar patterns, lining them up on strips against colored backgrounds. Such is the case in “The Falls XXXV”, a series of whitened patterns carved into a murky golden piece of paper.