'No Dead Artists' exhibit by emerging artists offers dreamy visions ripe with social comment

Review: 'No Dead Artists' exhibit by emerging artists offers dreamy visions ripe with social comment
BY D. ERIC BOOKHARDT
Sep 16, 2019 - 10:00 am

 

 

Psychologists long have suggested that dreams are a way our subconscious minds reorder everyday events into more symbolic narratives. Some artists and poets use dream imagery to suggest heightened awareness. Even so, it may seem surprising that so many dreamy images appear in Jonathan Ferrara Gallery’s 23rd annual “No Dead Artists” expo of work by emerging artists in an age when alarming political events are supposed to usher in protest art. Is this just a subjective reaction to political figures who appear to live in a dream world untethered to any verifiable reality? Many of these dreamy views are infused with biting or ironic social content reflecting a range of contemporary issues.

Chris Barnard's painting “Acquitted” (pictured) suggests a futuristic prison with shadowy figures treading exposed gangways. Look again, and it's a night view of New York's Museum of Modern Art, where four of the figures are a rendering of the Los Angeles police officers acquitted of assault in the beating of Rodney King. In the foreground is “144 Lead Square,” a minimalist work by sculptor Carl Andre, who in 1988 was acquitted of murder after allegedly pushing his wife out of a window in a high-rise building.

“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 “Night Cereal,” a view of a wall with a glowing TV screen framed by tchotchkes like an animal mask and oversized ax in a cluttered domestic setting. Although there are many 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. Through Sept. 28. Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, 400A Julia St., (504) 522-5471; www.jonathanferraragallery.com.

Contact D. Eric Bookhardt at erikhardt@gmail.com.