In Hilary Tolan's exhibit, “Floating World” the viewer enters a realm of manipulated landscapes. Photographs of dense forests are countered by ethereal drawings of trees and landscapes. The drawings, which utilize graphite, gouache, and walnut ink, are distilled from photographs of woods the artist often visits. They are pared down and edited to the essentials of trunk, limb, branch, leaf, stone, lichen and roots. Exposed roots seem to float in the uninhabited space of the picture plane. There is no figurative ground for them to hold on to. Drawings are delicate and show minute detail that asks the viewer to step close, to look carefully, and to slowly enter this quiet earth place.
In Tolan's photographs we see an image of landscape combined with a painted intervention of the artist. Interrupting the sky or draping across a large stone we are met with dark forms or line. The dark shapes at times conform to the objects themselves and at other times they create new shadowy areas to contend with. They evoke comparisons with various images; a dark curtain, a delicate line drawing, a slanting shadow. They stand in as a covering, a filling in, and a blanketing of space or perhaps a denoting of absence. This landscape suggests a possible “other” inhabiting it. Space shifts here as well, flattened by painted areas and pushed forward or back by proximity to natural form. We are left to wonder what the dark areas may be covering and what it might mean.
Tolan invites the viewer to contemplate the power and beauty of trees and stones, the experience of looking deeply and slowly, and the natural order of decay and regeneration. The landscape is interrupted and tampered with, and we are invited to believe in this drawn reality, this other possible land.