Monya Rowe is excited to present a group exhibition titled Get up off our Knees. The exhibition includes paintings by Angela Dufresne, Vera Iliatova, Amy Longenecker-Brown and Caroline Walker.
This street used to be full, it used to make me smile
And now it seems that everyone is walking single file...
And nothing I could say
Could ever make them see the light
Now apathy is happy that
It won without a fight
- Think For a Minute! (1986), The Housemartins
With a tinge of irony, the theme of the exhibition celebrates the refusal to be conditioned at the level our culture ‘instructs'. Our media saturated environment celebrating the decline of insight, thought and perception encourages a ‘false happiness' and fear of expression that inevitably forces individuals to withdraw. Rather than focusing on the perils of societal disconnect, the exhibition celebrates its' nuances and grieves the deterioration of congregated individuality. As Montag fled in Fahrenheit 451 (1966, Francois Truffaut), the protagonist on view - or in some cases a suggested protagonist - retreats to a quiet existential ‘place' of contemplation, embracing melancholies while gleefully recoiling. The gallery has intentionally selected four small works, one by each artist, to create an intimate, sublime experience that subversively meditates on how social conditioning has bred an acute self-awareness, and even fear.
Angela Dufresne presents a painting titled Girl Looking Over the Divide (2008) - adapted from Jean Renoir's 1951 film, The River -- ambiguously focusing on the moment when the character Harriet discovers her brother dead from a snakebite. The generosity of spirit - celebrating both life and death - extends towards Dufresne's expressive brush strokes that pay particular attention to the subjects' facial expression and hands. Emotionally rich and lavishly full of life, the painting captures the anguish of Harriet's unexpected discovery while placing an uncertain emotional weight on the viewer; who is left to create his or her own story for Harriet. Dufresne's work is currently on view in "Painting the Glasshouse: Artists Revisit Modern Architecture" at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, CT and the Yale School of Architecture, CT. A monograph on her work, published by The BookMakers Ed., Turin, will be released later this year.
Vera Iliatova's paintings are, in part, quiet ambiguous meditations on disconnect. Also influenced by film - particularly neo- realist and horror films - her subjects are carefully placed in surroundings that combine architecture and landscape from different cities, such as Moscow and New York. Iliatova places a specific importance on the gestures of her subjects - often a group of women, each considered a self-portrait in various psychological states - and the narrative. Combining a fictional and personal narrative allows each painting to lend themselves to vague interpretations. Iliatova will have her second solo exhibition at Monya Rowe in 2009.
For this exhibition, Amy Longenecker-Brown presents a painting from a series investigating the relationship between perception and response. Using a format revolving around the subtitle, The Autobiography of X, each protagonist is placed in the exact same surrounding, yet each represents a different reaction to the story being told. It is unclear if the storyteller is adapting to each audience or if the audience is adapting to the storyteller's performance. Longenecker-Brown asks the viewer to become the storyteller and to contemplate their performance, or themselves, in the presence of various scenarios: frightened children, orchestral soundtrack, Jesus, and those who show no interest (The Disinterested In The Audience at The Dramatic Reading of The Autobiography of X, 2008). The investigation reveals various traces of communication and self-awareness. Longenecker-Brown recently had a solo exhibition at Monya Rowe.
The paintings of Caroline Walker, a Scottish artist who lives In London, investigates the presence or absence of the human form in a space characterized by its' surroundings; solitary figures are placed in empty rooms or rooms reveal traces of human presence. Walker forces the viewer to question their perception of communication, voyeurism and solitude. Denying preconceived notions and social programming, the subjects - or lack of - in Walker's paintings may investigate an introverted state, yet they celebrate it. Reflective of the banal rather than the grand, Walker investigates the nuances of a despondent moment, an empty room and space. Walker is represented by Galleria Glance, Turin, Italy and will have a solo exhibition at Monya Rowe in 2009.