Jeana Sohn’s “Sleep Sleep” is a thoughtful adventure through a simple landscape. Female figures—from girls who look like figurines to women with aging faces—serenely search, dance delightedly, and investigate with intent through tangled rope, swarms of butterflies, and prismatic shapes, wandering in quasi-natural spaces. Each piece is undoubtedly part of the whole, linked together either literally through strands and lines or, visually, through these recurring motifs.
Symbols of nature’s most delicate and diaphanous elements permeate the paintings, from wispy peacock feathers and fragile butterfly wings to vulnerable bird’s eggs lying on the floor and gracefully articulated flower petals. Wood grain peeks through the paint, mainly comprised of organic shades of blues, greens, and browns, reiterating the presence of nature in these paintings. Women and girls sit and wonder, totter through, or close their eyes to this natural world around them, assuming the role of mediator between the natural, breathing elements of the paintings and the cold, prismatic, and angular shapes that are also present.
Bundles and whorls of rope serve as another symbolic connector between organic and inorganic, and, at the same time, draw attention to the blurred distinction between interconnected and entangled. In one painting, the rope serves as a tightrope to an adjacent canvas, and in another, wraps a helpless girl in a maze of twine. Insofar as these works are about the relationship between the uncultivated and the domestic, they are also about the convoluted enmeshments between them. In one of the most salient pieces, a mouthless, life-sized girl with life-like eyes stands holding out a beautifully crafted bird’s nest of feathers and twigs. Eggs rest in the nest and have fallen about the girl’s feet. Behind her, a coil of heavy rope climbs the wall, creating a braided swirl.
The show presents work that is visually stimulating and thought provoking, making use of relevant materials and paying great attention to detail, even in a simple line.
(Images from top to bottom: Awake in the Dark, 2009, 12 x 14 inches, Gouache, Acrylic on Wood; Girl and Hairy Bird, 2009, Variable, Plywood, Rope, Bird Feathers, Clay, Paper; Thinking about the Garden, 2009, 14 x 12 inches, Gouache, Acrylic on Wood; All images courtesy the artist and Taylor de Cordoba)