Leah Giberson’s “Silver Cover” Captures a Suburban Wild
We’re thrilled to present our newest edition with longtime 20x200 artist Leah Giberson: Silver Cover. This is our 6th edition with Giberson, and though this painting, full of blue skies and suburban sun, very much feels like part of Giberson’s oeuvre, there’s an interesting departure that’s revealed upon close attention.
So much feels distinctly and classically Giberson in Silver Cover: the suburban setting, the automotive vehicle at the center, the mind-bending photorealism. But there’s also something new that’s been unleashed: wildness.
Silver Cover is our first edition with Giberson to so prominently feature such an untamed living thing: the Hollywood Juniper Trees that tower over the car and house. The trees, Charles Burchfield-esque in their depiction, have a wild appearance of movement, which contrasts mightily with the extreme stillness of the car. The trees—symbols of the stationary and rooted—seem to thrash and move, while the car—a quintessentially-American symbol of freedom and movement—is not only still but contained by the silver drape.
Giberson often paints the suburbs, creating the tension between her bright, exuberant color palettes and a kind of containment of that same exuberance. We see this especially in pieces like Floral Shade and September Shade. In those paintings, wildness—in the form of colorful florals—is confined to the mid-century textiles. (Contrast the visual cacophony of the florals in the umbrellas and chairs to the precise lawns in the background.) Even the towering trees in French Dip are systematically trained and trimmed as a manicured frame to the poolside oasis. In Silver Cover, we go wild (as represented by the Hollywood Junipers), breaking free from the container of patterns and polyester.
This idea of containment vs. release is also interesting when considering Giberson’s unique process for creating these works. She uses a combination of photography, collage and painting (here’s a behind-the-scenes look at the artist at work), first taking photographs, printing them, then cutting and rearranging them, and finally painting over them, performing edits by way of scissors and brush.
Giberson mentions the “juxtaposition between the revealed and concealed” when it comes to Silver Cover, and of course, the multi-layered process plays into that tension. There is much mystery here: the concealed car, the obscured house, and the half-shaded trees. And what about what the artist herself has chosen to obscure?
Elsewhere, Giberson writes of “quiet anxiety and loneliness” often present in her works, pointing specifically to depopulated suburban scenes like this one. Silver Cover offers an interesting, and somewhat darker, counterpoint to the artist's earlier editions.