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The Alien Antarctic Landscape Glows In These Trippy Paintings

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Fine art and hard science collided in an unlikely way in the far reaches of the world— Antarctica. The result is artist Lily Simonson's exhibit "On Ice," now on display at CB1 Gallery on 5th near Spring Street downtown.

Like the Antarctic itself, Simonson’s work has an air of mystery and majesty about it, but it’s also vibrant. Her canvasses are covered in special paint that reacts to ultraviolet light. With a black light, they glow like aurora borealis.

The genesis of the exhibit started about two years ago with her interest in painting deep sea creatures. She was contacting the scientists who study them so she could see live animals, when one recommended she go to sea. So she took a trip to the South Pole, and the influence of being surrounded by glaciers and unfamiliar landscapes is apparent in her work.

"On land there really is no life, and you really are in this expansive void," she said. "Being in the Antarctic, it’s almost like being in an abstract painting. There’s nothing familiar about it, it’s just this void where nothing is supposed to be alive."

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The ice is melting and things are changing, but at a very, very… VERY slow pace, at least in human terms. There’s a reason the term “going at glacial speed” exists. But thanks to climate change, Antarctica is changing at an unnatural pace and Lily’s artwork documents that.

This Sunday, October 12 at 4 p.m., Lily and one of the key scientists she traveled with, planetary geologist Joe Levy, will hold a panel discussion on her body of work and the travels, ideas and science behind it.

CB1 Gallery is located at 207 W. 5th Street in Los Angeles. "On Ice" will be on display through Sunday, October 26.