Whitehot Magazine

May 2011, Nathlie Provosty @ Gallery Diet

Nathlie Provosty, No-Place, Place, 2011
Oil on linen; 15" x 12"
Courtesy of Gallery Diet, Miami


Nathlie Provosty, Ten Mothers, 2011
Oil on linen, 15" x 12"
Courtesy of Gallery Diet, Miami

Nathlie Provosty: Green(ish) Hermeticism
Gallery Diet
174 NW 23rd Street
Miami, FL, 33127
April 8 through May 14 2011

It isn’t very often that a refresher course on ancient philosophy and religion is sorely needed before entering a contemporary art exhibition. Nathlie Provosty’s solo outing ‘Green(ish) Hermeticism’ at Gallery Diet this May is one such example. The range of color and compositional movement may be sufficient for the typical onlooker, but fully grasping the young painter’s negotiation of a gnosis dating as far back to Ancient Egypt takes a bit of primary research.

In Hellenistic Egypt, the Greek god Hermes (known for acting as a messenger between the Olympian deities and those who dared venture into the Underworld) and the Egyptian god Thoth (considered to embody the human heart, which was the seat of all knowledge and wisdom) were worshipped as one in the Temple of Khmun, also called Hermopolis. Forbidden and vernacular spheres knowledge had been combined in the figure of Hermes Trismegistus, whose writings on alchemy, magic and astrology found enormous favor throughout the Middle Ages and the High Renaissance (the term ‘hermetically sealed’ is thought to have originated during this time). In the Modern era, Hermeticism has survived in hidden corners of Christianity, the Occult and intellectual streams of thought where science and the cosmos meet.

Nathlie Provosty, Saplings, 2011
Oil on linen; 15" x 12"
Courtesy of Gallery Diet, Miami

Back to the artist: Provosty was born in Cincinnati and holds a BFA from MICA along with an MFA from UPenn. Early showings in Mumbai, India (she was awarded a Fulbright Grant in India for painting) have led to more recent shows at Pace, the Fowler Arts Collective and Exit Art in New York.

This is Provosty’s first solo show and one which embraces an intellectually taxing subject. She employs a quixotic, but principled response to the idea of biological, or ‘green’, hermetics with highly-controlled configurations of earth tones and color swatches. With traces of ancient symbology, mythic forms and a noticeable revival of Geometric Abstraction, Provosty highlights the mysterious (and often discarded) schemes of nature in its all-encompassing cyclical motion. The rhythm and scale of ‘The Raven’ recalls the sensation of being swallowed in a penetrating color field as Newman’s ‘Vir Heroicus Sublimis’ does. ‘Inherited Symbols’ possesses a fresco-like texture with Romanesque swathes of lapis, copper and gold, overlaid on shapes which hint at Astrological, Kabbalistic, Chakra and Alchemist signifiers. Other curious works, like ‘No Place, Place’ offers a sense of floating through a vacuum, through which dark fragments have been blasted into the dense, silent void.

Viewers are bound to treat the show with wide-ranging responses: some may be confused, others indifferent, while still others magnetized by these carefully rendered studies of invisible tensions and philosophies. A sure thing, however, is that Gallery Diet’s director Nina Johnson has offered a crisp, manageable space to house Provosty’s investigation into the relationship between nature and our contrived world of the supernatural. Spells, symbols, signs, gods and monsters: these are all characters in the story of Hermeticism throughout the passing centuries. Provosty thrusts antiquity into a moment of respect for the ongoing struggle between natural world coexisting with the manmade esoteric arena.


Nathlie Provosty, Raven, 2011
Oil on linen; 84" x 86"
Courtesy of Gallery Diet, Miami

Nathlie Provosty, Inherited Symbols, 2011
Oil on linen; 44" x 36"
Courtesy of Gallery Diet, Miami

Shana Beth Mason

Shana Beth Mason is a critic formerly based in Brooklyn now active in London, UK. Contributions include Art in America, ArtVoices Magazine, FlashArt International, InstallationMag (Los Angeles), Kunstforum.as (Oslo), The Brooklyn Rail, The Miami Rail, San Francisco Arts Quarterly (SFAQ), and thisistomorrow.info (London).





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