The over-all picture is winter
in the background the return
-William Carlos Williams, Hunters in the Snow, 1962
Pieter Bruegel’s Series of the Month depicts January as a solemn time, one in which the struggle for survival is most acute. The month is captured in his painting, Hunters in the Snow, a work which for so many artists who have proceeded Bruegel, has inimitably captured the romantic, numbing feeling of despair that carries through the air of the new year. In the exhibition on view, Bruegel’s work serves as a point of departure from which to consider the circumstances of our own winter, which is heavy with the sense of journey still to be made to more healthful times.
The paintings presented here by Greg Burak, Katelyn Eichwald, Sally J. Han, Stacy Leigh, Chris Oh and Trude Viken usher Bruegel’s medieval narrative into a contemporary light, while retaining the ice-cold stillness of the Old Master’s brumal vision. In place of a richly inhabited landscape, these modern images see the crowd reduced to solitary visions: the woods are devoid of hunters, figures are relegated to empty voids and private interiors. In these pictures, the return is not to the group, but perhaps there is still hope for spring.