Portrait of the Midwest: Clare Doveton and Larassa Kabel’s “Beyond the Horizon”
Majestic, black and white horses tumble through the air. Their hyper-realistic bodies are captured mid-jump, or perhaps mid-fall, suspended delicately in the precarious moments before their inevitable landings. Beside them, celestial landscapes glow with an eerie yet inviting warmth. They are luminous and alluring, like sirens calling sweetly to viewers to enter their mysterious otherworld. Tangled and snarled thistles are cast in black silhouette against backgrounds of plain white. This is “Beyond the Horizon,” a joint show of works from Larassa Kabel and Clare Doveton.
Kabel’s cascading horse drawings conjure a distinct tension. Their muscles bulge and flex; their skin ripples and stretches. Their manes and tails billow around them as they approach inevitable collision with the ground. Though this impact is just seconds away, the ground itself is not visible. Kabel removes her plummeting horses from context, instead placing them against backgrounds of plain white. The fate of the animal is thus uncertain. Perhaps they will gracefully land their intentional, elegant jumps. Perhaps they will crash clumsily into the ground from abrupt and injurious falls. Or perhaps they will tumble endlessly through the air, trapped in Kabel’s empty settings.
Clare Doveton’s landscapes, too, convey an unmistakably tense quality. The artist reimagines scenes of Kansas nature with glowing pink horizons, pulsing cosmic constellations, and fiery red fields. The paintings seem soft, warm, and hospitable. They are tempting and indulgent, inviting viewers to immerse themselves in the lush, mystical scenery. And yet, the works are quietly and dissonantly menacing. The glinting, rosy light of the horizon is visible only through an ominous, dark ring of deep purples and maroons. Doveton’s alluring, dreamlike havens are just out of reach, just beyond the looming circles of darkness. The paintings are at once romantic and tragic, tangible and elusive, enticing and isolating.
When exhibited together, Kabel and Doveton’s works call and respond to one another. On the north wall of Weinberger Fine Art’s Drawing Room hangs “At Last,” one of Kabel’s falling horse drawings. The monochrome animal dives headfirst into the artist’s undefined abyss. Its veins protrude from its outstretched neck, and its limbs fan out from its twisted body. Across from Kabel’s drawing, “This Vast Night” by Doveton depicts a gleaming sunset beyond a lens-like ring of ominous gloom. Whereas Kabel’s horse drawing is subject sans setting, Doveton’s landscape painting is setting sans subject. Whereas Kabel extracts color from her plummeting horse, Doveton employs an expansive range of colors, even more varied and vibrant than the open-air Kansas landscape from which she draws inspiration. “At Last” and “This Vast Night” exemplify the subtle yet profound interactions between Kabel and Doveton’s unique bodies of work.
Both Larassa Kabel and Clare Doveton simultaneously romanticize the delicate beauty of Midwestern imagery and warn of its perils. The artworks on display are irresistibly calming yet anxiety-producing. “Beyond the Horizon” is a chilling and nostalgic portrait of the Midwest – of the fields that raised us, of the creatures that spoke to us, and of the skies that inspired us.