Glen Rubsamen / The Petrified Forest

June 1 to July 19, 2024

Glen Rubsamen
The Petrified Forest

Glen Rubsamen, born in Los Angeles in 1957, is a portraitist of the anthropogenic built environment with a strong Californian flavor.In his paintings, he depicts the absurd excesses of urban landscapes in sharp silhouettes set against the surreal colors of dawn or dusk.

Using previously photographed urban infrastructure, commercial advertising and vegetation, he creates superficially seductive, yet subtly abysmal snapshots of American life.

Annemarie Verna Gallery is pleased to present The Petrified Forest, a selection of photographs taken by Glen Rubsamen in Los Angeles in 2023. These photographs serve as the basis for his paintings. The artist offers a glimpse into his archive while taking us on a deeply personal journey through his hometown.

All images in the lightbox

 

MEDUSA VILLE

Text by Glen Rubsamen for the exhibition The Petrified Forest, 2024

“When I was very young and first heard about the Petrified Forest I assumed the forest had been turned to stone because Medusa had looked upon it. I had a children’s picture-book version of Ovid’s Metamorphoses in German (both my parents emigrated from Germany to the US and spoke German at home in Los Angeles). I remember believing that Medusa’s gaze turned not only men into stone but anything male – and in German “der Wald” is most definitely male. To complicate matters, I conflated the meanings of “petrified,” assuming that this stone forest was also scared, mortified, and in some way astonished by the fact. If you are petrified, you are frightened, so frightened that you cannot think or move: thus immobility became an attribute of fear. For me, this misunderstanding evolved into a kind of world view where inanimate objects started to acquire a fear of death. Not only objects, but complex structures made up of inanimate objects, like cars and roads and buildings. Suddenly, I imagined the whole city, Los Angeles, possessed by a kind of thanatophobia. This was validated by the film noir movies on television, which depicted an urbanism both malicious and fearful. Archie Mayo’s 1936 noir classic The Petrified Forest, starring Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis, and Leslie Howard, was one of the movies that I watched when I got home from school in the Hollywood Hills. For me, Los Angeles was at its most “petrified” at dusk or dawn, the penumbra on the edges of day and night. Later, in my teens, I became an umbraphile, obsessed with any object that blocked the sun and revealed complex shadows.

The process of petrification or fossilization is extremely fickle and complex. A tree must be buried in mud or silt for millennia so it is completely turned to stone by permineralization. All the organic matter (such as cellulose) is replaced with minerals (mostly silicates, such as quartz), which retain the original structure. The petrified object becomes a relic: a three-dimensional sculptural representation of the organic original. For me, this is an analogy for an urbanism in which a city’s older elements are replaced by new ones, but the older structures and systems remain. The photos in this exhibition document this urban petrification in a thousand tiny details. The direction of the sun, property rights, the flow of traffic, the arbitrary decisions of corporate capitalism, the fertility of the soil, the social class of the neighborhood, energy and lethargy – these all contribute to ongoing metamorphoses. As new elements appear in the cityscape, the older ones are subsumed but they still dictate limits on position and orientation.
A photograph is a type of petrification. It creates simulacra: recognizable appearances, preserving states of being, capturing a city’s movements and appearances, rendering them timeless. Like the petrifaction enacted by Medusa’s gaze, photography is the most prolific creator of “visual” statuary. The photograph becomes the relic, eliciting an interplay between self-sustaining and self-effacing, between the tension of the verbal and visual spheres of representation, between the mimetic and the enigmatic, life and death, presence and absence. These photographs of Los Angeles, all taken in 2023, mark the sixty-fifth year of my attempt to comprehend this city. Medusaville is empowered through our own imagination, while her appearance, necessarily unknown, remains elusive.”

 

Installation views

Glen Rubsamen / The Petrified Forest

Installation view room 4

Glen Rubsamen / The Petrified Forest

Installation view office room

Glen Rubsamen / The Petrified Forest

Installation view office room

Glen Rubsamen / The Petrified Forest

Installation view office room

Glen Rubsamen / The Petrified Forest

Installation view office room

Glen Rubsamen / The Petrified Forest

Installation view office room

Glen Rubsamen / The Petrified Forest

Installation view room 1

Glen Rubsamen / The Petrified Forest

Installation view room 1

Glen Rubsamen / The Petrified Forest

Installation view room 2

Glen Rubsamen / The Petrified Forest

Installation view room 2

Glen Rubsamen / The Petrified Forest

Installation view room 3

Glen Rubsamen / The Petrified Forest

Installation view room 3

Glen Rubsamen / The Petrified Forest

Installation view room 4

Glen Rubsamen / The Petrified Forest

Installation view room 4

Works

Glen Rubsamen / Ancient Truths   2023  41 x 51 cm acrylic on panel

Ancient Truths
2023
41 x 51 cm
acrylic on panel

Glen Rubsamen / El Super   2023  51 x 41 cm acrylic on panel

El Super
2023
51 x 41 cm
acrylic on panel

Glen Rubsamen / Arlington   Wing Stop   Raymond Ave   Through Street all: 2023, Digigraphs, ed. 6 51 x 41 oder 41 x 51 cm 19 x 13 or 13 x 19 inches  

Arlington

Wing Stop

Raymond Ave

Through Street

all: 2023, Digigraphs, ed. 6
51 x 41 oder 41 x 51 cm
19 x 13 or 13 x 19 inches

 

Glen Rubsamen / Superior   Alteration   Casmalia   Planet all: 2023, Digigraphs, ed. 6 51 x 41 oder 41 x 51 cm 19 x 13 or 13 x 19 inches

Superior

Alteration

Casmalia

Planet

all: 2023, Digigraphs, ed. 6
51 x 41 oder 41 x 51 cm
19 x 13 or 13 x 19 inches

Glen Rubsamen / Divide   Ted’s   Chung Ki Wa   Pretty Simple   Felix   Open To Public all: 2023, Digigraphs, ed. 6 51 x 41 oder 41 x 51 cm 19 x 13 or 13 x 19 inches  

Divide

Ted’s

Chung Ki Wa

Pretty Simple

Felix

Open To Public

all: 2023, Digigraphs, ed. 6
51 x 41 oder 41 x 51 cm
19 x 13 or 13 x 19 inches

 

Glen Rubsamen / Fill Up   Rooter    El Super    Joy Bargain all:  2023, Digigraphs, ed. 6  51 x 41 oder 41 x 51 cm 19 x 13 or 13 x 19 inches  

Fill Up

Rooter

 
El Super
 
Joy Bargain

all: 2023, Digigraphs, ed. 6
51 x 41 oder 41 x 51 cm
19 x 13 or 13 x 19 inches

 

Glen Rubsamen / World    Insurance    My Garden    VIP all: 2023, Digigraphs, ed. 6  51 x 41 oder 41 x 51 cm 19 x 13 or 13 x 19 inches  

World
 
Insurance
 
My Garden
 
VIP

all: 2023, Digigraphs, ed. 6
51 x 41 oder 41 x 51 cm
19 x 13 or 13 x 19 inches

 

Glen Rubsamen / Ok Stereo   Cloudburst   Farfetch    Avalon all: 2023, Digigraphs, ed. 6  51 x 41 oder 41 x 51 cm 19 x 13 or 13 x 19 inches  

Ok Stereo

Cloudburst


Farfetch
 
Avalon

all: 2023, Digigraphs, ed. 6
51 x 41 oder 41 x 51 cm
19 x 13 or 13 x 19 inches

 

Glen Rubsamen / Los Alamos   America    Commerce    Hand Wash all:  2023, Digigraphs, ed. 6 51 x 41 oder 41 x 51 cm 19 x 13 or 13 x 19 inches  

Los Alamos

America

 
Commerce
 
Hand Wash

all: 2023, Digigraphs, ed. 6
51 x 41 oder 41 x 51 cm
19 x 13 or 13 x 19 inches

 

Glen Rubsamen / Oxnard   Tattoo    Long Beach    Mobil all:  2023, Digigraphs, ed. 6 51 x 41 oder 41 x 51 cm 19 x 13 or 13 x 19 inches  

Oxnard

Tattoo
 
Long Beach
 
Mobil

all: 2023, Digigraphs, ed. 6
51 x 41 oder 41 x 51 cm
19 x 13 or 13 x 19 inches

 

Glen Rubsamen / Woody    NO BULL    St. Andrews    Colosseum all: 2023, Digigraphs, ed. 6 51 x 41 oder 41 x 51 cm 19 x 13 or 13 x 19 inches  

Woody
 
NO BULL
 
St. Andrews
 
Colosseum

all: 2023, Digigraphs, ed. 6
51 x 41 oder 41 x 51 cm
19 x 13 or 13 x 19 inches

 

Glen Rubsamen / LXP    101 South    Bargain    OXY    Balance    99 Cents all:  2023, Digigraphs, ed. 6 51 x 41 oder 41 x 51 cm 19 x 13 or 13 x 19 inches  

LXP
 
101 South
 
Bargain
 
OXY
 
Balance
 
99 Cents

all: 2023, Digigraphs, ed. 6
51 x 41 oder 41 x 51 cm
19 x 13 or 13 x 19 inches