Given a debut on the eve of the recent XFiles reboot, it was either prescience or a nod to the eternal, incorrigible human longing for things unseen that informed Cable Griffith’s exhibit of nocturnal landscapes at G. Gibson Gallery. Dotted with bouquets of levitating, phosphorescent orbs and fledgling flocks of UFOs, the paintings of “Sightings” comprise a pleasant migration from Griffith’s previous work, which has increasingly reduced landscapes to pixelated amalgamations of dashes and dots. With Griffith careening toward a unique pointillism that harkens simultaneously to Seurat and Minecraft, sometimes climaxing in a purely abstract, Morse codification of place, his work in “Sightings” dips back toward fully recognizable terrain, featuring the terrestrial stuff of trees and hills. For the series, Griffith draws from real-life reports of UFOs. The larger paintings on canvas-approaching Bierstadt proportions-are drenched in the murky blues of the Pacific Northwest.
In Two Lights in the Woods (both works cited, 2015), three fingers of a woodland creek cascade down moonlit moss, their froth comprising Griffith’s signature neon dashes of laser-blue liquid. The tributaries converge and pool under the portent of a pulsing green and violet light. 3 triangle shaped white lights slowly moving together (after Bierstadt) is a vast landscape at dusk, its heavy sky a layer cake of emerald, turquoise and graying greens that dissolve into purple shadow. A lone campfire provides the only spark of warm color. Pines crane their arrow-like tips, pointing to the heavens, where three UFOs hover in a patch of sky visible through a tangle of branches. A series of smaller acrylics on paper scale the paranormal to bite-size chunks; in contrast to the large paintings, they grid the gallery wall like pages torn from a picture book of Space Age mythology. Reports of sightings in places like the Pacific Northwest, Spain and Algeria are mapped out with geometric precision. Alien spacecraft plotted against the inky, gem-tone night skies vibrate.
Griffith’s dalliance into UFO storytelling nested within the tradition of landscape painting doesn’t just offer a painterly depiction of the universal-at times downright mad- yearning for something supernatural. By mythologizing the regional landscape in the era of regional tech glut, he offers a timely twist in the continuation of Modernist-era Northwest Mystics like Mark Tobey, Morris Graves and Kenneth Callahan. In a similar vein to their divination through mark making which found a basis in the natural world, by reducing his landscapes to tangled cuneiform abstractions, Griffith locates the sublime at a crossroads where nature, technology, and the imagination, all unexpectedly meet.
Two Lights in the Woods
Acrylic on canvas
54″ x 72″
Photo: courtesy G. Gibson Gallery