Studio Visit: Greg Lindquist by Louis Bury

Painting pollution.


All photos by Louis Bury.

For the duration of the 2017/18 Whitney Independent Study Program, Greg Lindquist is working out of two separate studio spaces. He uses his Long Island City studio, where I visited him, for painting, and his Chinatown studio, provided by the Whitney, for research and discussion. Lately he has been contemplating how his extensive and mostly behind-the-scenes ecological research might be more directly incorporated into his artwork.

The question of how best to represent that which normally remains invisible has been an ongoing concern for Lindquist in his dazzling landscape paintings. His 2014–16 Smoke and Water mural and painting series—a  response to the Duke Energy Corporation’s 2014 spill of 39,000 tons of coal ash into North Carolina’s Dan River—depicts ash swirling atop the river in the brief time period before it sank underwater. Incongruously rendered in hyper-visible candy colors, the ash swirls glow like radioactive tracers in a nuclear medicine scan.


Work in Lindquist’s current exhibition at Lennon, Weinberg, Inc., Of ash and coal, exposes pollution in a literal, rather than simply mimetic, way. It does so specifically by including coal ash in the paintings’ materials. With a palette of otherworldly yellows and greens, the paintings depict the largest coal electric plants in the United States, all of which are sited in impoverished rural areas and shrouded in tree cover. The sooty streaks that comprise the paintings’ grounds tinge the works with an apocalyptic mood that is all the more unnerving for its strange beauty.

The literary critic Rob Nixon coined the term “slow violence” to describe ecological devastation whose effects are gradual and mostly out of sight. As Lindquist works through new aesthetic and political questions—a video about his research into state environmental regulations is in the works for the upcoming May 2018 Whitney ISP exhibition—we would do well to pay continued attention to how he discloses parts of our world we’d rather not see.


Greg Lindquist: Of ash and coal is on view at Lennon, Weinberg, Inc. in New York City until April 14. 

Greg Lindquist is a New York-based artist and writer. His work has been exhibited at numerous galleries, institutions, and museums, including the Brooklyn Academy of Music, University of Arizona Museum of Art, Weatherspoon Art Museum, and North Carolina Museum of Art. He was awarded the Marie Walsh Sharpe Space Program, Milton and Sally Avery Foundation grant, Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant, and Art Omi residency. Lindquist completed a dual master’s degree in fine art and art history from Pratt Institute in 2008 and is currently attending the Whitney American Museum of Art Independent Study Program as a studio participant in the 2017–18 year.   

Louis Bury is the author of Exercises in Criticism (Dalkey Archive) and Assistant Professor of English at Hostos Community College, CUNY. He writes regularly about visual art for Hyperallergic, and his creative and critical work has been published in Bookforum, Brooklyn Rail, Los Angeles Review of Books, Boston Review, and The Believer.

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