Sweet Surrender examines the theme of ubiquitous fantasy and fable: a belief in magic, witchcraft, spells and charms, in incantations and the transformations they yield. And, perhaps unintentionally, looks at how pop-surrealism disseminates the archetypes that essentially must follow this theme.
There is a comfort in relying on this mythic iconography, both on the spectator's side as well as the artist's. Fairly literal, this type of imagery engages the viewer in an experience that can be summed up as an achievement of pattern. We know what these symbols represent through their wide reproduction. We know what the big bad wolf looks like and all his intentions (Krista Huot's The Shadowed Path). A white witch's icy gaze (Mia) is pretty clear. What is admittedly unclear is how much of this is meant literally and how much is rhetorical imagery.
The octopi in Allison Torneros's and Camilla d'Errico's pieces cannot be coincidence; they answer to a mythical meaning lost to us today, though at one time, the mollusk was often found on gold medallions (which many indie-crafters replicate today). Perhaps it is the intricate and softly mobile arms of the bizarre sea-monster that is alluring. Audrey Kawasaki (who did not appear in this show but pulses along the same vein) has used the octopus to convey a similar otherworldliness as her contemporaries explore. To call it trendy would be uncouth, but not untrue.
Krista Huot pairs pop-surrealism with fairy tale iconography that glows with a mysterious inner light, reminiscent of Disney's Briar Rose reaching for a glowing sea of green cast by a spindle's boding evil; the glory days of Disney find their way back into relevance with Huot's feverish use of highly saturated color and bold geometric symmetry.
That is what this is: a nod to what we find familiar, to the fragments of beliefs that go back to ancient times. We get that the incidents are marvelous but the human situation recognizable. It is this illusive and ethereal nod that suggests what these heroines, witchy-poos, enchantresses, the haughty, the envious, and the unfaithful are all capable of.
We see these girls writhing in elation or fear, as in Jennifer Tong's series of clones. She is the perfect example of an artist who takes a generalized diverse set of characters and morphs them into just a few types. Her subjects are carbon copies of a few prototypes, filing down the assembly line as in The Perfect Bot.
In Mirror, Mirror, two girls, polar opposites, above and below, as in Heaven as in Hell, remind us of significant dualities. Relying on the classic whimsy of Lewis Carroll, this piece offers an anti-universe gained through reflection.
The pieces in this exhibit reflect a sweet surrender to classic mythos, derived from traditional lore and superstition. To some, this could be an utterly antiquated subject, but still, I loved the work, if not just for the skill and imagining of form and color, but for the symbols, ubiquitous surely, that bring the incomprehensible into the realm of the tangible.
(Images: Mia, White Witch, acrylic on wood, 8 x 10 inches; Krista Huot, The Shadowed Path, acrylic on birch, 24 x 18 inches; Camilla d'Errico, Techno Tako, acrylic and ink on canvas, 16 x 20 inches; Jennifer Tong, The Perfect Bot, oil and ink on Gessbord, 12 x 12 inches. All images courtesy of Gallery 1988 and the artists.)