Abel Auer’s paintings are consumed by the apocalypse. A nuclear mushroom cloud washes over the landscape in one with a sinister orange hue. Another captures an encroaching forest fire. Things are no better in the city where a hurricane has toppled towers. In a literal example of ‘zombie figuration’, Death himself makes an appearance on one canvas, while in others, the dying are busy counting hell’s circles. It’s a memento mori but death is the future and the past perfect at once.
For its concern with the natural and the inevitable, this isn’t an exhibition about the climate crisis. It is, nonetheless, opportunistic: like every artist, Auer tries to turn the disaster to art’s advantage. But he is more interested in the fate of painting than humanity and thus stands apart from the army of zealots who make eco art today. Unfortunately, a ‘key’ painting – a kind of sales pitch that calls to the Illuminati, the pyramids, and aliens – undermines the show and turns it back into propaganda.