Another Roadside Attraction | An Exploration of the Contemporary Fine Art Genre of the Neo-Grotesque
New York, NY 10001
The Neo-Grotesque genre in the fine arts has continued to gain momentum over the past couple of decades with the works of such artists as Odd Nerdrum, Dino Valls, Joel Peter Witkin and Robert and Shana Parke-Harrison, amongst others. Another Roadside Attraction aims to explore this genre by exhibiting a dynamic cross section of artwork that evinces various unique aspects thereof. Seattle’s Roq la Rue gallery states, “The term [Neo-Grotesque] was recently coined for the resurgence of artists working with subject matter traditionally deemed unattractive or repulsive, but representing them in a sympathetic manner in a highly formal technical style." More than that, it is a modern exploration of the intriguing “dissonance between the grotesque and the sublime”, to paraphrase author Mark Dery and his essay, The Pyrotechnic Insanitarium. Neo-Grotesque artwork not only derives inspiration from history (e.g. the art of Hieronymus Bosch or Roadside Attraction curio exhibits, once ubiquitous in the United States), but also more modern influences due to the proliferation of the internet. Often cathartic in nature, its elements unbury uncomfortable and/or strange truths, old and new, inherent in the world around us.
A Discussion on the Grotesque in Art with Dr. Nancy Hightower
Date/time: Saturday November 20, 5-7pm
In conjunction with the exhibit Another Roadside Attraction, Dr. Nancy Hightower will lead a discussion on the grotesque in art as it relates to the artwork on view at the ISE Cultural Foundation:
"Modern contemporary art, film, TV, and literature embrace the bizarre in a way never before seen. Many might term what they see and read as “grotesque”—used pejoratively to mean that which is strange, unsightly, obscene; in some cases, even funny. The grotesque as a scholarly study, however, is something different. It’s not altogether different, mind you, for certainly the grotesque always includes elements of the bizarre. Yet many authors and artists have used the grotesque—this elusive intersection of humor and horror—to question the strongest rhetoric that holds our society together.
The grotesque has a rich and long history, beginning in antiquity. It was simply ornamental back in Nero’s time, as we see in the “grottoes” of his palace, the Domus Aurea. Human forms blended into plants and animals, with a playfulness that delighted the eye. That ornamental version of the grotesque turned darker when Bosch incorporated it into his Garden of Earthly Delights and Bruegel in The Triumph of Death. Both works give us insight into the paradoxes of the artists’ cultures Over time, the grotesque grew to include an aspect of horror along with a humor that moved beyond an intellectual sarcasm. The purpose of such transgressive humor and horror addresses the paradoxes, hypocrisies, and binaries seen in our post-modern society."