By Katy Cowan
For over thirty years, Valeri Larko has drawn inspiration for her paintings from the dilapidated industrial landscapes of New Jersey and New York. She focuses on the collision between nature and man-made infrastructures evident in forgotten side streets, waterways, derelict factories, and salvage yards, revealing stories that exist at the fringes of city life.
Working in the nineteenth century tradition of painting en plein air, or outdoors, is central to Valeri’s practice, as she spends months or years working on her canvases directly in the presence of her subjects. In 2004, she moved to New Rochelle, NY, a transition that led her to explore a new, neighbouring location in her paintings: The Bronx.
These particular artworks serve as a record of the vibrant graffiti displayed on structures throughout the borough, and on the verge of extinction. Other paintings showcase glimpses of the salt marshes and creeks that have managed to thrive within the urban sprawl. Valeri’s paintings remind viewers of a Bronx that coexists as both a city and nature reserve, capable of gritty and touching beauty, while also focusing on themes of memory, preservation, and expansion.
Based in the Bronx, Valeri’s paintings have been exhibited in museums and galleries across the US and Europe. Exhibitions include Lyons Wier Gallery, NYC; The Bronx Museum, NY; Montserrat College of Art, Beverly, MA; The National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC and the Barbara Frigerio Gallery, Milan, Italy. Her artwork has been featured in numerous publications including the New York Times, ARTnews and the Wall Street Journal. Valeri is represented by Lyons Wier Gallery, NYC.
Forty of her urban landscapes are currently on view at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, in New York City until 26th June 2016.
Via direct submission | All images courtesy of the artist