Countless artists have seen the untamed landscape as a provocative metaphor for the power and aura of natural forces, to the point of cliche and redundancy. The sheer process of representation, with its elements of framing, composition and aesthetic choices tends to drain the subject of its primeval essence and translate it into mere image/object fodder. This is particularly true of Kitty Klaidman's recent series of "Windstorms" paintings, where the arid landscape of southern Spain has been harnessed for a "poetic" statement on the elemental power of the storm and, by extension, painting itself.
Devoid of human presence, Klaidman's landscapes are marked by ominous skies and lurking mountain ranges in thin gray and ochre acrylic, offset by a kinetic foreground of wind-swept grasses and scrub, rendered in cross-hatched oil pastel. One could see this vision as a comment on the inconsequential nature of man set against the sublime presence of nature, yet Klaidman undermines her intent with a vibrant palette and busy brushwork that stresses decorative effect rather than expressive commitment. The landscape thus becomes a catalyst for a romantic outpouring of bravura color designed to highlight the artist as creative intermediary, instead of retaining its last vestige of integrity as mere phenomenon. (Pink's Fine Arts, 250 26th St., to May 3.)