Sweet Dreams featuring Margaret Murphy Nancy Friedemann Sandra Bermudez Andrew Chan
New York – hpgrp gallery is pleased to present “Sweet Dreams,” a group exhibition featuring four artists’ truly sweet things. Pretty paintings and terribly cuddly animals, even some “nightmarishly sweet” things, as one artist describes his detailed, grown-up papier-mache creations, all give voice to things beyond their initial impact. Featuring paintings, drawings and sculpture, curated by Shuhei Yamatani.
Margaret Murphy takes cues from mass-produced figurines, knick-knacks and keepsakes to examine how material culture reflects and influences ideas of gender, culture, race and history. By painting these “artifacts” in a realistic style, she allows the mass-produced figurine to stand in for the human form, raising provocative questions about human issues. Margaret’s method of working is “creative documentary” because of her use of elements that already exist in the culture to make comments on the culture, allowing viewers to bring their own experiences and memories to the work. Her newest body of work, The Ballerina Project, examines the overly romantic notion of this icon of femininity and the proliferation of these images in the culture. From billowing tutus to music-box ballerinas reflected in oval mirrors, her paintings take an up-close view of the ballerina myth.
Sandra Bermudez’s artwork probes issues surrounding love, relationships and marriage. Exploring aspects of couplehood and the conventions associated with love and sex, Sandra often addresses the uncomfortable and frequently unmentioned issues surrounding marriage. Sandra presents familiar animal imagery but shows them in new contexts with a playful range of humor, irony, wit and satire as well as with deeper critical reflections on social and gender values. Using sculptural objects like bunnies and chipmunks, she focuses on the more mundane aspects of couplehood and explores the balance between gender and housework. The objects’ lush tactility and “cuteness” draws the viewer in, but the reality of the animal’s exhausted positioning questions domestic power relations.
Nancy Friedemann manipulates symbols that deal with ideas about femininity and the role of women in art history. She draws, paints and presents these issues in an over-the-top gorgeous way. By reenacting the process of making lace through drawing and painting, Nancy captures the nature of lace making and creates monumental works, intricate yet done with tiny strokes. Painting some of the sweet things women have been historically associated with, like lace, flowers and embroidery, Nancy monumentalizes them and gives them a heroic place and scale that can remind one of high macho modern art.
Andrew Chan’s architecture training and childhood love for building plastic model kits merged with knowledge from old DIY craft books to create works using papier-mache, a method that appears fragile but is durable enough to function as furniture. Using this perceived fragility to denote a precarious survival instinct, works like Andrew’s intricate papier-mache vending machine, “No Change Given,” serves up everything one needs in case of an emergency. Household products mixed with the absurd are packaged, branded and marketed into objects for popular consumption. In drawing, the basis of all his work, Andrew uses an edgy and/or frenetic line that conveys his interest in entropy and its consequent cycle of construction and deconstruction. In his work, line is a measure by which the organic and the inorganic emerge to create representations–in some cases, bordering on caricatures–of people and objects. Working in unison, the elements tell a story that can be both compelling and disturbing.