Natalie Arnoldi : Landlord is the first solo exhibition by the artist at Kantor Gallery, comprised of 11 paintings on canvas. The body of work is inspired by Arnoldi’s time working for Dr. Barbara Block at Stanford University studying great white sharks.
Every year, Arnoldi and a group of researchers return to the same sites in Northern California to put satellite tags on great whites to track their yearly seasonal migrations out to an area called the “great white shark Cafe”. Arnoldi says “we see the same sharks returning to these aggregation sites every year and are able to recognize them by distinctive marks and scars and the ridging along the back of their dorsal fin, which is unique to each animal, just like a thumb print. But beyond that, different sharks have distinct personality traits. Some are bold and curious, others shy and elusive. Because of this, we tend to give the sharks nicknames based on those personality traits”.
In 2014, Arnoldi painted life sized portraits of many of the sharks she has studied in northern California and had an exhibition of those works at Ace Gallery in Beverly Hills. “I wanted to create a different experience for interacting with these animals than most people ever have access to. They really are extraordinary, beautiful creatures. My hope in making these shark paintings is to inspire some of the same sense of awe of encountering these animals in real life.”
In “Landlord”, a euphemism many surfers use when referring to great whites, Arnoldi has painted a series of portraits of great whites from Guadalupe Island in Mexico, another congregation site for great whites. Arnoldi has never visited the site, but based these paintings on photographs taken by an Instagram photographer @iphotographsharks, who takes individualized portraits of sharks he has encountered. By engaging people with these animals in a way different than the usual paradigm of shock and fear, Arnoldi paintings aim to shift our relationship with these magnificent animals into one of respect and awe.