Dwellers on the Threshold
April 6th, 2018 — May 6th, 2018
ARTIST TALK: Saturday, May 5th, 3PM – 5PM
Mary DeVincentis “Dweller on the Threshold” (2017, acrylic on yupo on panel, 60″ x 48”)
[View Exhibition Catalogue Here]
DAVID&SCHWEITZER Contemporary is pleased to present Dwellers on the Threshold, which is Mary DeVincentis’ first one-person exhibition at our gallery.
Over the last two decades, DeVincentis has created her work in series such as Sin Eaters and Dark Matters, which are inspired by her study of Buddhism and Western psychology. Her paintings capture a balance between her rich internal landscape and her responses to the contemporary world around her. Her work is created by a wholly original mash-up of Western modernism and post-modernism, classical South Asian and Tibetan traditions, and is always defined by the commonality of the painter’s touch and sensitivity for process and materiality, creating work of a deeply personal iconography that investigates the universal dilemmas and mysteries of existence.
In her most recent series, Dwellers on the Threshold, she has intuitively brought forward and makes contemporary the origins of Victorian Narrative painting founded by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in the late 1840s, during the birth of the Industrial Revolution. This was a time of great cultural and social dislocation borne of new technologies, a time in which one can find parallels with much of the dislocation we feel in this age of meta-information, the growth of A.I. and the blinding speed of the digital revolution.
The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood felt it was their role as artists to tell moral tales and they chose subjects which were less idealized than that of their predecessors, and more reflective of the changing world they saw around them. They were a group fascinated by recent scientific discoveries, which appeared to disprove biblical chronology, and by the willingness of scientists to challenge the prevalent beliefs of the era.
In Dwellers on the Threshold, DeVincentis draws on myths emerging from her subconscious and upon art and literature from both east and west to create an open-ended humanist narrative, (less a formal or structured narrative than that of the Pre-Raphaelites); one which contains multiple readings, and which questions individual and collective morality in our time of great unease and dislocation. It is through her complex, beautifully rendered fables that we question who we are and what we believe.
Mary DeVincentis maintains studios in Manhattan and Brooklyn. She received her BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art and a Postgraduate Diploma in Advanced Printmaking from St. Martins College of Art in London, UK. Her work has been included in exhibits at Life on Mars Gallery, the International Print Center, the New York Public Library, White Columns, the Brooklyn Museum and most recently in Sympathetic Magic, curated by Elisa Decker at Westbeth Gallery and in a group exhibition at the Bo Lee Gallery in London, among numerous others. She is represented by DAVID&SCHWEITZER Contemporary in NY and Gibbons and Nicolas in Dublin, Ireland.
100 Boats and the Fair Wheel
April 6th, 2018 — April 29th, 2018
Opening Reception: Friday, April 6th, 6PM – 9PM
DAVID&SCHWEITZER Contemporary will present 100 Boats and the Fair Wheel, a new exhibition by Brooklyn based artist, Elisa Jensen in the gallery’s project room.
Jensen’s most recent work includes both oil paintings and sculptures that draw their inspiration from Scandinavian and Irish Bronze age art, including spirals and concentric circles that can be found Irish Neolithic rock carving, and symbolic offerings found at holy places in Ireland, Denmark, Norway and Sweden.
“I’ve given Elisa full reign to wreak absolute havoc on the project room, and she has come up with something that is weirdly wild, primordial in its conception, and uncompromisingly contemporary. The sculptural element of the show comprises 100 delicately wrought golden boats that ride the choppy but invisible waves of time, and the Fair Wheel paintings speak in a visual language that is both ancient and immediately understood by the modern eye. This show smashes through all barriers, obliterating time, connecting light and darkness, and reuniting mind with body. To quote that great New York poet Bob Dylan ‘The stuff we got will knock your brains out.’” – Michael David
“My newest work is a shift from external reality to the interior world of the unconscious – earlier I was making paintings that involved bike riders, graffiti, and all things Brooklyn. Now I’m doing what I think of as Bronze Age Brooklyn, focusing on a much older graffiti — what I call the ‘Fair Wheel’ paintings are sun symbols that I’ve taken from varying periods of art, including rock carvings from the neolithic and bronze ages, as well as Viking and Celtic art, and Medieval Manuscripts. The Golden Boats in this show are a reference to a Bronze age offering that was found in a grave mound in Nords, which is a little town near the Limfjord in Northern Jutland, Denmark” says Jensen.
Jensen addresses the question “Why Bronze Age Brooklyn?”: “I think that art has the power to reframe the way we see the world. And that’s an important idea in these rather dark times — if we are going to push back the darkness we need exactly the sort of light that happens when people are making art, and we need the illumination and fellow feeling that happens when people look at art.”
She connects this idea to her work with neolithic and Bronze age images: “When the darkness is at its worst it’s necessary to return to the first flame, and the first sources of inspiration. The sun symbols, cross hatches and spiral patterns that adorn prehistoric holy places in Denmark, Ireland, England, France are exactly that — they represent some of the earliest and most incendiary graffiti, and they lit the first flame in some of the first minds. No one really knows for sure what they mean, but I believe they were made to refocus the mind, connect us with the unseen, and tap into the light that surrounds each and every one of us.”
More About the Fair Wheel:
In the Scandinavian Poetic Eddas (circa 1,300 AD) the sun is represented poetically as many different kennings* including the Fair Wheel (Fager Hjul). Jensen says “As I draw and then paint from ancient symbols their meaning becomes more clear to me. It is a meditative process that is full of surprises.” Her painting, the Neolithic Cosmic Egg has a fast whip-like movement, it goes inwards and outwards as it circles around, meanwhile, the center is calm. There is a yin/yang-like energy which, as she states, symbolizes the cycle of life, death and rejuvenation.
The same theme can be found in the Neolithic Bohemian Butterfly with its spiraling butterfly/caterpillar theme. Neolithic Cosmic Egg, with its swirling bands of energy and flying seeds, takes its inspiration from a 6,000 year old vase painting of showing the cycle of creation, while Emlyshrine Cosmic Eye, with its circle of T shapes laying siege to the central and fecund cosmos, relies on medieval imagery that maps out levels of consciousness required to approach the divine. In each orbiting ring the intervals of division change, changing the sense of speed as the eye moves through the image. “I’m interested in how similar these symbols are even though they come from sources thousands of years apart. You can draw a line straight down from the rock art on the Neolithic Knowth tomb in Ireland to Brooklyn graffiti through my paintings to the Target or Google logo.” Jensen states.
Elisa Jensen is a Brooklyn based painter. She has won awards from New York Foundation for the Arts, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and The National Academy Museum for her figurative work focusing on the world around her: from work that focuses on the unselfconscious imaginative bubble of her young children interacting with the natural world, to the shadow world of Bottle Collectors and Park-sleepers who live on the very margins of society, and the hipsters and bicyclists who now populate her the graffiti-tagged Greenpoint neighborhood. Elisa Jensen is the Chairman of the Board of Governor’s at the New York Studio School, and is a member of its faculty. She studied at Smith College and the New York Studio School. She is a member of the Danish Artists’ collective, Corner. This is her first one-person show with David & Schweitzer Contemporary.
*A Kenning is a compound word or phrase that is used as a metaphor such as “swan-road” for the ocean, or or “Ship-of-the-Night” for the moon, used especially in Old Norse poetry.