He is a hole in the shape of a man in the landscape . . .
– Rutger Kopland, "The Surveyor," in Memories of the Unknown
A man standing, observing. Snow-covered mountains. Gentle grasslands. The surface of the moon. Floods bubbling out of the ocean. Fires burning the landscape. The Sublime. From this comes Surveyor, a collection-based exhibition presenting modern and contemporary artists whose works are rooted in the exploration, observation, construct, and perception of landscape. Taking its title from a poem by the Dutch writer Rutger Kopland, Surveyor underscores the theme of humanity’s relationship with, and understanding of, the immensely powerful and indescribable beauty of the natural world in which we live. The exhibition features the premiere of several major new acquisitions for the museum’s collection, including works by Kelly Barrie, Sonja Braas, Barnaby Furnas, Cameron Martin, Matthew Ritchie, Gary Simmons, and Zhan Wang, as well as works from the collection that have not been on view in recent months, including those by Stephan Balkenhol, James Ensor, Leon Golub, Mariko Mori, Auguste Rodin, and Thomas Scheibitz.
In addition to Curator Heather Pesanti’s selections, Surveyor featured work by five Buffalo-based artists—Michael Basinski, Bingyi, Millie Chen, Peter Stephens, and Paul Vanouse—whose work resonates with the theme, and who have been invited to both respond with examples of their own work and curate their own selections from the museum’s collection.
Finally, recognizing language as its own form of landscape, the museum collaborated with the Poetry Collection at the University at Buffalo to borrow and exhibit rare art poetry books, ranging from first editions of works by Gertrude Stein and T. S. Eliot to collaborative books by Helen Adam and Kiki Smith, and Michael McClure and Jess. Here we find words as mountains, oceans, and trees.
Presenting an expanded dialogue between curator, collection, artist, and author, Surveyor combined contemporary artistic commentary with an historical review of the theme, inviting the viewer on a surveyor’s journey through the complex and fantastical depths of our lived environment.
This exhibition was organized by Curator Heather Pesanti.