GREG ROSE

I look to nature for sublime experience, but instead of finding that experience in the mountains and streams of a pristine wilderness, I find it in the suburban neighborhoods of Southern California. Formalized nature -- nature intended to produce an image of "nature," such as ikebana, bonsai, public and residential landscaping -- appeals to me more than "real" nature. I'm attracted to the refinement that goes into making something "real" more ideal than it is in "reality." "Natural Beauty" -- not nature itself, but the aesthetic idea of nature -- is something that humankind has invented for itself. I am in awe of that invention. The multi-cultural diversity of Southern California is reflected in its accumulation of imported vegetation. A walk down any street in Los Angeles is like a visit to an international botanical garden. Flora from the world over can be seen flourishing in even an average front yard. It's all about being able to design and create your own personal paradise. Long before I apply any paint to a canvas, I design the piece on a computer using Adobe PhotoShop, sourcing from images photocopied from old books on Japanese flower arranging and photographs I have taken of people's front yards around my neighborhood. Once I have finalized the design, I print a hard copy and paint with the image as a guide. Most of the image planes are produced using stencils cut from masking tape. The paint is applied with a variety of tools that result in a wide range of surface values, from flat and smooth to thick and gestural, yet always with a manicured edge. As with formal landscaping, the relationship between chaos and order is refined into a picturesque image that suggests the idea of nature rather than nature itself.