PROTAGONIST - Contemporary Art from America is an exhibition of drawing and photography by three emmerging American artists; Helen Maurene Cooper, Jenny Kendler and Alisha Wessler. The show is curated by Emma Balazs of Sotheby's Institute, New York.
Helen Maurene Cooper takes on the role of producer, director, photographer and subject in her photographic series "The Birds of Appetite." In her works, the artist explores the dichotomy between the synthetic and the real, romance and sex, the exchange of power between male and female bodies, and the relationship of the body to landscape. These comparisons are used to express an overwhelming preoccupation with longing, desire and the containment of wildness.
Jenny Kendler's work revolves around the theme of human beings' relationship with nature and the natural world. Kendler’s drawings and terrariums show women in intimate physical relation to the environment, directly confronting that idea that human beings are somehow separate from and above the natural world. Her figures empower themselves through their ability to accept, understand and dissolve into nature, growing plants from their bodies, adopting manes in unlikely places, or “giving birth” to streams of tiny fish. Many of her pieces deal with fall-out from the increasing schism between nature and culture, focusing on our estranged relationship with the other species that inhabit the space we consider ours alone.
Alisha Wessler’s work emerges from a profound desire to depict imaginary worlds. Homespun yet mythic, the figures simultaneously evolve from and sustain indeterminate spaces where earth and atmosphere bear silent witness to the richness of interior life. The artist is interested in creating scenes that hint at narrative, with illustrations often eliciting discomfiting feelings with their many subtle contradictions: pretty yet strange; delicate yet morbid; surreal yet grounded in wombs and root systems, Wessler’s images compel participation.