Wild beasts overrun The Warehouse Gallery in ‘Faux Naturel’ exhibition
The Warehouse Gallery opens its first exhibition of contemporary international art with “Faux Naturel,” which includes the work of seven artists from Philadelphia, Montreal, Syracuse and Toronto who have created stunning visions of larger-than-life sculpture, tragi-comedic video, striking collages and intricate printmaking. The exhibition is on view Nov. 9-Dec. 23. Artists will be present for a reception Thursday, Nov. 16, at 5 p.m. during Th3, the citywide arts opening night. Both the exhibition and reception are free and open to the public.
“The themes in `Faux Naturel’ revolve around human foibles and a pining for the perceived perfection and innocence of nature,” says Astria Suparak, gallery director and curator of the exhibition. “German filmmaker Werner Herzog once described nature as cruelly apathetic. Some people believe anything `natural’ or from nature must be inherently good. Despite our praises for its bountifulness or curses for the disasters it causes, nature doesn’t care and continues to be an overwhelming force.”
“Faux Naturel” showcases New York premieres by emerging artists. The works installed for the unique dimensions of The Warehouse Gallery are Nick Lenker’s “CloudKill,” Emily Vey Duke and Cooper Battersby’s “log bench” and Alex Da Corte’s “Thieves and Damnation Wallpaper.”
Exhibition highlights include:
- Da Corte’s “Thieves” (fabric, foam, lanyard installation), a colossal snake pit in polka dots, Pippi Longstocking stripes, satin and velour, fanged with ribbon bows and limp tongues. Writhing out of the center of The Warehouse Gallery, its cables diffract like rainbows from this intestinal-like mass, charming the brighter reptiles to rise above the rest;
- Da Corte’s “Damnation Wallpaper” (cotton sateen, Vivitone acrylic, flock, wood), a gorgeous excommunication in deep magenta, turquoise, honeysuckle and bronze. The Philadelphia artist drew from his childhood model of high art, Michelangelo’s paintings on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. The figures being cast from the Garden of Eden tumble downward, free falling into shame, adorned with sinewy, censoring hair and primroses;
- Eighteen feet of a maple tree that stretches across the vault of The Warehouse Gallery, serving as a bench for the projected video “Songs of Praise for the Heart Beyond Cure.” Themes of addiction, violence, the destruction of the natural world and the agonies of adolescence are woven through the video by acclaimed Canadian art duo Duke and Battersby, who are transmedia faculty members in the College of Visual and Performing Arts;
- “CloudKill” (glazed earthenware) by Lenker from Philadelphia, a morbid love letter, a trophy set and a clowder of eternally sleeping cats. The artist’s lover found a feline mysteriously and pristinely dead. Lenker cast this gift into the kiln, creating mounted ceramic pieces for each social fear he’s overcome;
- Torontonian Annie MacDonell’s series of collages, “Scenes from the Vanity” (paper on masonite), evoking the preciousness and primness of cameos. Anonymous yet familiar female silhouettes pose in a sutured fantasy garden derived from gardening books. Her layered reuse of old posters everlastingly flatters — these simplified, svelte women and blossoming branches will never decay. Yet each piece of paper attests to time’s subtle ravage with degrees of yellowing and ghostly ink bleeding from the other side. Overall, reality has been thwarted and lives stilled during their fetching moment;
- Also from Toronto, Allyson Mitchell’s “Sassquogs” (fake fur, found textile and glass on styrofoam) look like taxidermied vermin permanently viewed through rose-filtered glasses. But instead of indicating life on the upswing, these ghastly creatures with plasticized reptilian eyes look bloodied and mutant. Some casually display their nipples, rendered as hot pink flowers by Mitchell, without shame or consciousness;
- Andrea Vander Kooij from Montreal stretches vintage bed sheets as quaint backgrounds for her embroidered works (pictured above). Simply revealing skeletal structure adds gravity and morbidity to the otherwise cheery image of a squirrel nibbling a nut or a perched bird gazing skyward. Their cozy pelts mask a gruesome system of quivering muscles and vulnerable organs — a reminder of our inevitable corporeal end.
The Warehouse Gallery is a new contemporary art space located at The Warehouse, 350 W. Fayette St., on the edge of Armory Square. The gallery exhibits, commissions and promotes work by international and local artists in a variety of media. The Warehouse Gallery’s mission is to engage the community in a dialogue regarding the role the arts can play in illuminating the critical issues of our times.
The Warehouse Gallery is open Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Parking is available in areas adjacent to The Warehouse. Free Connective Corridor shuttle service is also available. For more information, visit http://www.thewarehousegallery.org.