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Erica Svec, Same Enemy Rainbow

Larissa Goldston Gallery
551 West 21st Street, 212-206-7887
May 13 - June 21, 2008
Reception: Thursday, May 15, 6 - 8 PM
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Larissa Goldston Gallery is pleased to present Same Enemy Rainbow, the gallery’s second solo exhibition of paintings by Erica Svec.

The layered paintings included in this exhibition contain elements of Svec’s everyday life, dreams, and visions, creating imaginative realms that reflect the often perplexing qualities of the modern world. Imbued with symbols and archetypes that lurk in the collective unconscious, these paintings are filled with juxtaposed imagery that is at once familiar and unknown. By reassembling visual cues from both historic and banal origins, Svec creates remarkably complex compositions that appear to employ multiple – and often contradictory – painting techniques and aesthetics. The canvases betray a visual lineage that links Svec’s work to disparate art historical influences, including ancient Greek art, early American painting, Cubism, and the Symbolist movement. Behind these obsessively detailed and densely packed surfaces, Svec has constructed personal narratives with a visual language that is all her own.

In these new paintings, Svec abandons the superhero protagonist that dominated her last body of work, but continues an underlying dialogue about anxiety, vulnerability, life and death. The titular painting presents the apotropaic symbol of an eye in the palm of the hand, but the loss of a finger underscores its inability to protect against evil while other universally known talismans seem to work against temptations within the picture. The memento mori-like theme is continued in the aptly named diptych, Earthbound. Using a false sense of symmetry to illustrate simultaneous but separate vigils, the large panels address the sameness of human experience in light of the irony of dying. Watson and the Shark is a large-scale painting that evokes the mythology of a protagonist being swallowed by a whale, and the struggle to escape or get through the ordeal. Within the contemporary political context, its imagery conveys a sense of crisis to the viewer that also seems to address how more worldly crises – over-consumption, war, and the environment – impact daily life.

Svec’s work is more evocative than descriptive. The viewer encounters oddly plausible physical spaces that impart an overwhelming sense of the paintings’ images existing in dreams or visions. This is reinforced by the manner in which the specificity of each object in her paintings is undermined by its use as either metaphor or analogy. While containing many incongruent elements, the paintings are an unlikely synthesis of dynamic energy and emotional complexity. At the same time, they achieve a surprising, lyrical, and painterly beauty.

The title of the show, Same Enemy Rainbow, is a borrowed line from John Coletti’s forthcoming book of poems published by Fewer & Further Press. Please join us on June 6th at 7pm for a poetry reading with Mr. Colleti and Edmund Berrigan.
Have photos of this show? Tag them with artcal-7178 to see them here.