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Melanie Daniel

Galleri Christoffer Egelund proudly presents Springflare by Melanie Daniel, the artist’s second solo show at the gallery. Melanie Daniel’s intricate and colorful art conveys the splendor of the natural world – and the urgency with which we must act if we want to preserve it. The exhibition, which consists of entirely new paintings on canvas, can be seen at Bredgade 75 in Copenhagen from May 3rd until May 31st 2024.

Melanie Daniel’s art transports one into a rich and complex world. Textile-like patterns, intricate surfaces and vibrant color palettes are visual feasts that swell the longer one looks at them. As the title Springflare suggests, the canvas becomes a blaze of color and energy during this season for potential and change.

Daniel’s focus is the natural world. Rolling fields and deep forests adorn her canvases while owls, wolves, foxes and rabbits meet the viewer’s gaze. In this world, everything has meaning. Daniel reflects, “There is much solitude in these works, something meditative. It’s about providing the space that each small thing deserves. Every brush stroke or mark as well as each tiny creature or plant all weigh in and are all equally valuable. There is no hierarchy present in these paintings – for the glowing moon and the most delicate flower are part of the same system of life.” 

Every branch and leaf is rendered with loving detail, emphasizing that even the smallest living thing is a universe in itself.  By showing us the beauty of the natural world in this ever-expanding and spectacular way, the artist wants us to feel like we can be embraced by nature and are still able to restore the balance that has been lost. The variety and tactility of the patterns invites us to reconnect with our feeling of touch, with our connection to the sensuous world. While the animals inhabit the canvas’ space of nature with ease and comfort, humans are only present as shadows, distant or camouflaged figures or objects left behind, reminding us that we are but small pieces of a much larger puzzle. The larger picture includes an array of animals, with special focus on the owl. The owl has traditionally been associated with knowledge, wisdom, transformation and death. Daniel says, “I think of owls as a harbinger of future events: of humanity’s last chance to save our planet. We need to kill our old ways of thinking in order to bring about the change required to restore a sane and normal balance in the world. That may involve a combination of things, including technological innovation, but mainly a shift away from human dominance over nature. Humility and gratitude would be a nice start and so would taking only what we need.”

The digital also makes an appearance in some of the landscapes. In The Arrangement, flower vases adorned with retro-digital gaming elements including the “no Internet connection” dinosaur are clustered together in a forest clearing. Someone was there, artfully deposited these mysterious vases, and simply walked away. Incongruous elements pop up in the strangest places, much the way human culture has insinuated itself in the most remote forests. Anthropomorphic shadows spread over the hills (Thread a Path Among the Trees); shapes of rabbit ears or fox jaws are mimicked by plants (Dune Bunniesand Through the Rustling Leaves); stony men hike through forest clearings (Spring Rights the Winter Wrongs). Life and purpose is everywhere but creatures are mutating and assuming a hybrid existence. A kind of leveling or equalization occurs in these paintings: technology; Classical Greek civilization; flora and fauna all may adapt to the demands of rapidly changing world or simply go the way of the dinosaurs.

Classical statues are ensconced between vines and leaves, nearly swallowed by the undulating thicket. Etched in Sunlight features Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of beauty, love, sexuality and fertility, abandoned in a lush garden of flowers and vines. Could this be the quiet fate of our own culture and would it be so terrible to invite the ants and the flowers to cover us?

Melanie Daniel (b. 1972 in Victoria, British Columbia) is an internationally renowned Canadian artist. She has exhibited at galleries and museums around the world in cities like New York (US), LA (US), Miami (US), London (UK), Lyon (FR), Montreal (CA) Christchurch (NZ), Stockholm (SE) and Copenhagen (DK). She holds a BA in science, literature and philosophy and a BFA and MFA and is the recipient of the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, the New York Foundation for the Arts Grant, the Creative Capital Grant, and the NARS Foundation Residency in New York City. Her art is represented in private and public collections around the world, including the Harvard Business School collection, and the Brandes Family Art Collection, and has been featured on CBC/Radio Canada, in Frieze Magazine, and in Newsweek Magazine.