Abbi Kenny, Art New England, April 1, 2021


Paradise –– defined as “a place or state of bliss, felicity, or delight,” is something many of us need right now. The 11-artist group exhibition Paradise at Cade Tompkins Projects looks to fill this void with works depicting verdant landscapes, vibrant pastoral scenes, and luscious figurative images. The intimate gallery nestled unsuspectedly into College Hill holds an engaging trove of prints, drawings, and paintings. Tompkins arranges the works so that their varied styles create unexpected juxtapositions. Nancy Friese’s enticing diptych Long Summer Light hangs next to Justin Kim’s The Garden, Deep Springs, CA, both facing Thomas Sgouros’s dreamy Remembered Landscape. This particular moment in Paradise embraces the greatness of the outdoors by recalling the 18th-century concept of the sublime in painting, which continues throughout the exhibition. 


Color fanaticism abounds. Kim’s The Garden, Deep Springs, CA attracts the viewer with its warm pinks and yellows, yet retains the gaze as its textured and intricate layering unravel. The image itself is quotidian, though he composes it as phenomenal. Kim’s second painting Full Moon, Deep Springs, CA presents a cool evening scene. In the bottom left corner, the most tender touch of a sheep and dog brings the night’s placidity into unusual perspective.


The exhibition splits into two distinctive parts. The first consists only of landscapes, while the second introduces figuration. This arrangement addresses Paradise as a physical as well as a spiritual place. Tompkins explains it as two different reflections on Persian understandings of Paradise: being a garden and being where the righteous go after death. The final room and home of the figure, holds the magnificent and monumental work Time…thou ceaseless lackeys to eternity by Orit Hofshi—a mixed media artwork employing printmaking and drawing techniques on handmade Kozo an Abaca paper. Taking over an entire wall, it creates a world unto its own. The vastness of the work combined with Hofshi’s complex details can only be fully appreciated after close examination. It exemplifies the exhibition’s goals to bring together precisely the crafted and dynamic works that “preserve our memories of the most fleeting moments.” 

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