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Meshes of the Afternoon , 1943 Film Still © Image courtesy Tavia Ito and Anthology Film Archives
Curated by: Todd Levin

118 East 64th Street
New York , NY 10065
September 14th, 2011 - October 22nd, 2011



“….as soon as the light fails the limp plant stiffens, the leaves become firm, the flowers rise up and expand; the whole plant acquires a kind of modest beauty and the bloom pours forth its delicious scent, which is wafted many yards away.” -Gertrude Jekyll, 19th century British garden designer

Marianne Boesky Gallery proudly presents Night Scented Stock, a group exhibition exploring the myriad stratagems artists employ to engage the phantasmagoric impulse in their work. While subject matter in this exhibition spans a wide gambit from the grotesque to the bucolic, each artist’s unique creation incites our imagination with furtive potency recalling the nocturnal flower from which this exhibition takes its name. Once dusk falls and moonlight breathes life into its withered limbs, the Night Scented Stock emits an intoxicating aroma which lures a panoply of the night’s creatures – insects, bats, moths and birds –with its mysterious scent.

Due to its spellbinding grip over this varied group of nocturnal animals ranging from delicate to menacing, the Night Scented Stock prompts associations with the fantastic and occult. For this reason, British composer/singer Kate Bush named a song for this flower on her 1980 album Never for Ever. Of the album’s eleven tracks, “Night Scented Stock” is the most orphic and mystifying. Lasting just 51 seconds, Bush’s synthesizer drone morphs into layered liturgical chant that is simultaneously angelic and haunting. Like the flower’s scent, this transient song seems to exist more comfortably in our imagination than reality. To that end, artist Nick Price portrayed Bush on the album’s cover in a state of hallucinatory ecstasy as a cornucopia of beautiful and terrifying creatures swell from underneath her billowing dress. Bush stated Price’s cover “...takes us on an intricate journey of our emotions: inside gets outside, as we flood people and things with our desires and problems....then it's for you to bring them to life...”

Like Bush’s album cover and her songs, the artworks included in Night Scented Stock all share an otherworldliness that is peculiar and fantastic, yet somehow recognizable. Charting the phantasmagoric impulse over 500 years, this exhibition looks at artists’ use of themes such as religion, decay, transformation, and even abstraction as vehicles to deliver the fantastic and incite both their and our imaginations. Throughout art history, be it in the martyrdom woodcuts of Albrecht Durer, the inner landscapes of Pavel Tchelitchew, or Anj Smith’s mystic dystopias caught between decay and chrysalis, artists have consciously imparted an elusive aura in their work that suspends it somewhere between fantasy and reality. In walking this line between the demonstrative and the ambiguous, artists leave an inhabitable space for our invention. Like the Night Scented Stock, their works have a mysterious pull on both the beautiful and malefic thoughts that flutter in our minds.

Night Scented Stock will open on September 14 at Marianne Boesky Gallery’s uptown space, located at 118 East 64th Street, between Park and Lexington Avenues. The exhibition will be on view through Saturday, October 22nd. For further information or images please contact Claire Pauley at or 212-680-9889      .