Work on Monday: “Dawn Light, China” by April Gornik

"Dawn Light, China" by April Gornik
“Dawn Light, China” by April Gornik,

Today’s Work on Monday looks at “Dawn Light, China,” a surreal emotional landscape by North Haven painter April Gornik. The painting demonstrates Gornik’s talent for combining multiple images of landscapes into one, seamless composition that best captures the emotional or mental state she wants to convey, or, at the very least, a fictitious scene from her imagination.

Work on Monday is a weekly look at one piece of art related to the East End, usually by a Hamptons or North Fork artist, living or dead, created in any kind of media. Join the conversation by posting your thoughts in the comments below and email suggestions for a future Work on Monday here.

Dawn Light, China
April Gornik (b.1953)
Oil on linen
79 x 99 inches, 2006

“Dawn Light, China” brings the viewer into a serene and misty place along a pond or river with large monolithic stone forms appearing in the haze and reflecting in the still, glassy water. Gornik’s magic comes from her ability to create almost believable landscapes that are just “off” enough to tell the viewer they couldn’t possibly exist. She is at once a realist and surrealist.

The artist uses paint masterfully and makes each detail real, but together they could never be. This is an impossible place we  still desperately want to visit. Even what appears to be the rising moon is out of place with the vague shadow of mountains behind it. Is the message about our desire for an unattainable peace and serenity, or is Gornik’s creation simply candy for the mind’s eye? A dream made real?

Despite its absolute beauty, “Dawn Light, China” inspires a certain unexpected longing and sadness. We see before us water that can never be felt, mossy grass that our bare feet will never stand upon and foggy air we’ll never breathe. It’s a painting in which to get lost, no matter how many times we emerge with pangs of wanting and regret.

How can something so beautiful hurt so much? It’s an age old story.

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