Los Angeles

Margaret Nielsen

Asher/Faure

Margaret Nielsen’s small obsessive panels suggest the stuff that dreams are made of. These 4-by-5-inch, densely painted views of forests, lakes, and campgrounds might have described some idyllic world of carefree leisure. But no, nature has taken a dramatically sinister turn. Four men in a canoe paddle through the waves and flames of a lake caught on fire. A child’s swing is suspended over a swirling pool of water filled with writhing snakes. Two trees fight for footing in an angry vortex, tethered together by a stout rope. A group of campers enjoy the evening glow of a warm fire while a burning comet plummets toward them through the treetops. This is an inverted world, familiar in its individual elements but obeying unfamiliar rules hostile to man and ultimately to nature itself.

Nielsen’s tightly focused narratives establish an emotional climate of tension, fear, and wonder even as her

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