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'IShow previews' January 2021


The World We Share
Rochelle Belsito

As 2021 arrives, RJD Gallery curated an exhibition that helps define inner feelings and the current times. The show, titled The World We Share, will feature artwork from artists such as Geoffrey Laurence, Julia Chen, Matt R. Martin, Salvatore Alessi, Margaret Bowland and Frank Oriti.
"The New Year is upon us, and as always, artists and their art will help define who we are in this moment. It plays a major role to help show ourselves to ourselves, a reflection of our innermost feelings and current times,” says gallery director Joi Jackson Perle. “The challenges of last year—a near perfect storm of pandemic, upheaval and uncertainty, led us to a new way of living, socially distanced but connected through and grounded by the arts. Art speaks of change, renewal and endless possibilities in the world we share, and we are excited to see where art leads us in the next 12 months.”
For the last 10 years, Oriti has taken the same route to work and has driven by the basketball hoop pictured in his painting The Last Shot. He always appreciated its tarnished state, having gone through all the seasons in Cleveland, year after year. He Anally pulled over to get a closer look and took photographs. “About a month after I stopped off to capture this basketball hoop, I drove past it one morning and realized it was taken down,” he shares. “This painting now stands as the proof—not just that the hoop once existed, but that perhaps it made someone’s childhood. It taught someone. It passed someone’s time.”
Alessi’s painting Between Us was inspired by Diego Velazquez’s Las Meninas, which Alessi describes as “an enigmatic work that lures the viewer in time and again with its layered presentation of realities and relationships. In the background of Las Meninas, the viewer can perceive that the queen and king of Spain have the same point of view as our own.”
He continues, “The Agures in Between Us are set inside an elevator and the foreground seems to fall apart and deconstruct, but behind them, there is a mirror that reflects them intact, and still behind them is a figure that opens the door that has the same point of view as ours ."
Another artist who often takes inspiration from the arts is Laurence, whose work The Blue Fan is a reminder of Gauguin's artwork, in particular the painting Girl with a Fan, 1902. Gauguin's piece depicted “the wife of a local witch doctor at Hiva Oa where Gauguin lived and ultimately died."
For his painting, Laurence says, “I added my own twist using light flickering across the gilded chair and a closer framing, accentuating the shadows with the cropped lighting to increase the sense of mystery. The Blue Fan is part of my ongoing series of homages to artists that I have admired since childhood. In the series, I make direct referral to the chosen artists in the backgrounds, using exactly the same kind of brush handling and chroma. I used a combination of references from two other of Gauguin's paintings in the background." Of his work Berlin, Laurence says, “I imagined a time in Berlin between theworld wars of the 20th century of cabaret, free social and sexual mores and an art renaissance. The piece talks strongly about time and memory. As the son of refugees from the Berlin of that period, I had heard a lot about it during my childhood. Europe has never recovered artistically from what might have continued in the creative arts, the flow was broken, especially the renaissance that was taking place for Jewish artists and which has been irretrievably lost.”
Chen painted The Wish Has To Come Through as a way to express her feelings of her brother and his cancer 10 years ago. The man in the foreground is her father, who passed away in 2017. “Just like my brother and his cancer 10 years ago, the pandemic now causes great anxieties I wish could subside in an instant. What cuts through this vast, gloomy Prussian blue—the color I used in my painting—and anchors me during this time of pandemic was a rediscovery of lakes. Through the relatively safe social distancing activity of kayaking, I inadvertently found a way to be one with nature. Floating intimately on the lake alone quietly amidst the gentle waves under the glowing sunlight, time stops and space freezes, all the corporeal troubles become external,” shares Chen. “On that year's birthday, that my brother was in and out of the hospital, my mother shut her eyes so tightly as if not doing so the wish would escape out of her. It was an unusually long time for making a wish, [and] we all knew what that wish was for. That was a wish that must come through. Today, our collective wish about the pandemic must come through for all of us. I look forward to the clearing of this storm, anticipating a brilliant cerulean blue sky reflecting off a tranquil lake surface.”
Power is one of Bowland’s newest paintings and one she considers to be among her best to date. "It is the work that revealed to me the ideas I am expounding upon in my new work,” she says. "I am seeking to connect the viewer to the impact history has upon each person, each child, born into this world. We believe our lives to be the accumulation of the choices we make. And this is true; however, those choices are framed within each individual’s intersection with time.”
Bowland continues, “In Power, I am asking, ‘How much ‘power’ does this child have to navigate her life, considering the powers into which she was born?’ I ask that of myself now as I work. We are asking that now of ourselves as a nation. What is ‘power’?”
An appreciation for the subtle nuances of the human form is recognized in Martin’s artwork, including his painting Kimura, which can be seen as “blurred lines of sculpture, violence, sex, movement, beauty.” Martin says, “I have been working with women a lot in somewhat tangled sculpted forms. I wanted to explore the male figure in a similar way and I loved the idea of jiujitsu. It’s like a combination of a dance, of violence and a chess match of movement with proper technique and leverage. And when it’s done at a high level, there is beauty in the male form with muscles straining and flexing. The title, Kimura, is a finishing move in jiujitsu.”
The World We Share will be on view at the Bridgehampton, New York-based gallery throughout January. • •

RJD Gallery 2385 Main Street • Bridgehampton, NY 11932 • (631) 725-1161 • www.rjdgallery.com


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