Taking its cue from another well-known literary reference – Washington Irving’s 1819 classic, “Rip Van Winkle”, the eponymous protagonist of which falls asleep under a shady tree and wakes, after a short dream, to find that twenty ears have passed – Rip’s Tree Stripped investigates the violent passage of time by re-imagining the landscape from the from the tale. Light, spring colours behind the tree’s torn and twisted bark convey an image of change as a force both creative and destructive, simultaneously ensuring the continuous birth of new entities while hastening the decline of others. As in all of Neel’s works, her title in this case suggests a literal content or action while simultaneously referring to a more elusive set of cultural associations. This linguistic strategy complements her manipulation of visual cognition within her paintings.

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