Chris Gonyea: HYPHAE: Connecting with the Forest

July 21 – August 26, 2018

Reception: Saturday, July 28, 4 – 6 PM


Artist Talk: Saturday, July 28, 3 PM


I am an artist who abstracts the landscape in order to discover patterns in nature. Previously I was strictly an abstract artist until I took a leap in style to explore the possibilities of incorporating a realistic image into the realm of the abstract. Trees have emerged as the motif in which I can explore these possibilities.

I apply a certain sense of improvisation in my process. I want to allow the drawing or painting to breathe as I develop the formal composition. Within this context I discover relationships between elements of the forest, groupings, dynamics and subtext occur to me as the images emerge. Formal elements of drawing give way to the shapes and energy of the forest.

A very important consideration for me is the recognition of negative space. Branches often create connections that are described by the graphic line. The space between is as solid as the subject and new shapes form as a result. I allow my mind to wander as new relationships are revealed. I often equate the branches to our own neurons transferring energy through synapses to create cognitive thought and awareness. It seems there is actually a scientific theory that supports these conjectures that I ponder.

The Mycorrhizal network is a lattice of fungi that create a communication system that has recently been compared to the internet. Hyphea are the microscopic tendrils of mycelium that connect vast fungal colonies with roots. 90% of land based plants are believed to be “plugged in” to a symbiotic relationship that lies beneath the surface of the ground. This system can help locate water, provide certain nutrients and protect from infection. Short of declaring that trees “speak” to one another in a formal language, some scientists have described the effect as “Forest Wisdom.”

These fungal networks give us another example of how interconnected all life on earth really is. When I am painting the forest I participate in a process of observation, creation and discovery that resonates beyond the physical object. It is hard to see trees as individual entities any longer. The connection goes deeper than just simply observing the forest, but perhaps looking in as well. Hopefully these images convey the energy and dynamic of living things as they exist in our landscape and as we perceive them through our own personal experience.

Fun Fungi Fact:

“Is this the largest organism in the world? This 2,400-acre (970-hectare) site in Oregon had a contiguous growth of mycelium before logging roads cut through it. Estimated at 1,665 football fields in size and 2,200 years old, this one fungus has killed the forest above it several times over, and in doing so has built deeper soil layers that allow the growth of ever larger stands of trees. Mushroom-forming forest fungi are unique in that their mycelial mats can achieve such massive proportions.”

-Paul Stamets, Mycelium Running.  (1)

  1. Stamets, Paul. Mycelium Running, Ten Speed Press, USA 2005 p. 45

2018 Solo Shows were selected by juror Kenise Barnes, Director and owner of Kenise Barnes Fine Art. 

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