Yuko Murata characterizes her landscapes, and the animals that populate them, as “scenes along the way.” She works from postcards and travel brochures, and her paintings share in that atmosphere of dislocated fantasy: they depict remote sanctuaries famous more as images than as actual destinations. Rather than pining for paradise itself, Murata settles down in its reflection. Her heavy brushstrokes and broad swaths of color pare the stock photos down to their simplest elements, emphasizing the distance between the image and its source. She makes her home in that disjunction, in composite scenery built fromfragments of a collective ideal.
Murata’s most recent body of work, bohemians, follows a group of swans acrossthis synthetic environment: past felled trees, through rolling hills, and out into open water. Simplified to an iconic checkmark, the swans are moments of serenity amidstswirling expanses of bright green, soft pink and deep blue. They drift from paintingto painting casting glances at an errant pair of moose antlers or gazing out towardsa distant landmass, becoming proxies for Murata herself, guides into her makeshiftworld. Yet, as is typical of Murata’s animals, these nomads aren’t entirely approachable. Facing the viewer, clustered near the foreground, they seem to be forever crossing our path, rather than leading the way. As with the landscapes theyroam, the swans are equal parts aspirational and transitory, inviting butfundamentally mysterious.