The intersection of nature and manmade infrastructure is a fascinating theme that has found itself the subject of artists for centuries. What does this idea look like through the eyes of an adroit realist today?
During a career that has spanned over 30 years, painter Valeri Larko has continually found inspiration in the abandoned, dilapidated landscapes in the cities of America’s northeast. Having spent most of her life in Northern New Jersey, Larko has always been surrounded by endless miles of industrial landscapes, many sprawling and many in states of ruin. As hinted above, Larko finds herself fascinated by the collision of nature and industry, which reveals to the artist stories at the fringes of city life.

Valeri Larko, “MNG Automotive,” 2013, oil on linen, 21 x 70 in. (c) Valeri Larko 2016

Recently, Larko has explored various sites around Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx in New York, which has resulted in a captivating exhibition at the Bronx Museum of the Arts. On view now through June 26, “Bronx Focus: Paintings by Valeri Larko” will feature these recent works, with specific attention paid to the museum’s home, the Bronx. The museum reports, “The works in the exhibition serve as a record of the vibrant graffiti culture as displayed in structures throughout the borough now, 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. Larko’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.”

Valeri Larko, “Meat Packing Plant, Bronx,” 2012, oil on linen, 20 x 66 in. (c) Valeri Larko 2016

Central to Larko’s process involves on site painting, en plein air. “She spends months or years working on her canvases directly in the presence of her subjects,” the museum adds. “Bronx Focus: Paintings by Valeri Larko” will hang through June 26.
To learn more, visit the Bronx Museum of the Arts.
This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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Andrew Webster is the former Editor of Fine Art Today and worked as an editorial and creative marketing assistant for Streamline Publishing. Andrew graduated from The University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.A. in Art History and Ceramics. He then moved on to the University of Oregon, where he completed an M.A. in Art History. Studying under scholar Kathleen Nicholson, he completed a thesis project that investigated the peculiar practice of embedded self-portraiture within Christian imagery during the 15th and early 16th centuries in Italy.


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