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Tree Tops

NEW YORK — If April Gornik were a musician, she’d have a bona fide hit on her hands. As it stands, the artist’s latest prints, on display since early October at Pace Prints (and available at paceprints.com), are just shy of selling...

April Gornik photographed by Ross Bleckner
NEW YORK — If April Gornik were a musician, she’d have a bona fide hit on her hands. As it stands, the artist’s latest prints, on display since early October at Pace Prints (and available at paceprints.com), are just shy of selling out. The suite of etchings — "Palatine Light," "Edge of the Forest" and "Light Through Trees" — has struck a chord with collectors, consultants and designers alike.

"Everyone’s been buying them as a set," says Pace Editions’ associate director Stephanie Sloane, who has split just two sets so far. The series, an edition of 30, sells for $5,400 with individual prints going for $1,800.

Even Gornik can’t quite say why the landscape etchings, which depict an imaginary landscape of trees, have sold so briskly.

"I’ve been wondering aloud — ‘what is it with trees?’" she says over the phone from her Manhattan studio. She and her husband, artist Eric Fischl, also have studios in their summer home in Northhaven, Long Island. "I think people tend to see trees anthropomorphically. They have such an upright, recognizable quality. People associate them with personages in some way."

But Gornik’s use of light could be another clue. The etchings radiate a luminous quality that suggests they could glow on their own. Capturing light and its shimmer has been a lifelong study for the artist, who says she is fascinated by its effects on nature. "My work is all about landscape and light being held by forms," she says. "Light has an erotic, unbelievably sensual quality. It’s a long-standing fixation of mine."

The genesis for the prints began three years ago when she and Fischl rented a studio at the American Academy of Rome next to a park. With her digital camera, Gornik often snapped pictures of the buildings, people and trees. "I never took those pictures thinking I’d make prints out of them. It wasn’t intentional." Using PhotoShop, she eliminated everything but the trees and created a series of compositional collages that served as a basic sketch for her etching. Two of the images she extrapolated from frames she shot on Rome’s Palatine Hill, which is next to the Forum and the third was taken on the Gianicolo Hill.
Although she loves Rome and the inspiration she finds there, the self-described workaholic is most often found at home in her studio, tinkering with the moody, blue-green painting she’s currently at work on. "I seldom take a day off," she says, adding that having a husband she can discuss art with at a moment’s notice is one of the joys of her life.

"You can call it work, but I could not have a better job."