Sunday, September 15, 2019

23rd Annual No Dead Artists Exhibition

Psychologists have long suggested that dreams are a way our subconscious minds reorder everyday life events into symbolic narratives. Some artists and poets use dream imagery to suggest heightened awareness. It may seem surprising that so many dreamy images appear in this 23rd Annual No Dead Artists expo of work by emerging artists in an age when alarming political events were supposed to usher in a new era of protest art. Is this just a subjective reaction to political figures who appear to live in a dream world untethered to any verifiable reality? In fact, many of these dreamy looking views turn out to be infused with biting or ironic social content reflecting a range of contemporary issues.    

Chris Barnard's painting “Acquitted,” top right, suggests a futuristic prison with shadowy figures  treading exposed gangways inside. Look again, and it's a night view of New York's Museum of Modern Art where four of the figures are actually a rendering of the LAPD officers acquitted of assault in the beating of Rodney King. In the foreground is “144 Lead Squares,” a minimalist work by sculptor Carl Andre who in 1988 was acquitted of murder after allegedly pushing his wife out a high rise window. “Facade X” by German artist Susanna Storch is a night view through the glass walls of a high tech  laundry where anonymous people face whirring washing machines – except for a couple making out on a shiny steel bench, infusing the sleek mechanistic scene with a furtive hormonal aura.

More minimal facades appear in Maggie Evans' eerily empty modernist spaces, but Felicia Forte embraces dreamlike messiness in her “Night Cereal” view of a wall with a glowing TV screen framed by tchotchkes like an animal mask and oversize ax in a cluttered domestic setting. Although there are many more figurative works in the show, it is these oddly somnambulistic scenes that capture the disembodied tone of a time when so much human interaction is filtered through the small screens of digital devices equipped with  apps for all occasions. ~Bookhardt / 23rd Annual No Dead Artists Exhibition, Through Sept. 28, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, 400A Julia St., 522-5471.