En Plein Air (A Stux Invitational)
Stux Gallery is pleased to present En Plein Air, an invitational exhibit that explores the current state of visual art perception. Working from a range of media and inspirations, the showʼs fourteen artists present vividly imagined, observant “peintures sur le motif” that are acutely conscious of the presence of material reality and the continuity of history. They describe the tangible intersection between abstract thought and reality, a terrain that is becoming increasingly integrated yet problematic in contemporary society.
The act of seeing acknowledges the objectʼs visibility and proposes a vantage point for the onlooker. Although the painting process implies interpretation and abstraction, transcribing and emulating the results of the full activation of oneʼs senses was the primary concern for Plein Air painters who ventured into nature in the Nineteenth Century. Today, seeing is a more dynamic activity for artists. The world is saturated with an exploding population, diverging ideologies, infinite versions of history and a permanently increasing quantity of visual and audio information. Architectural engineering has achieved a landscape that approaches fantasy, leaving the division between imaginations witnessed by the Wordsworthian “inward eye” and reality itself difficult to trace. The ostensibly impossible task of seeing the invisible is now a mandatory skill.
While Vik Muniz presents the art of our time as a collage of cultural vestiges that lack traditional expectations of continuously renewed originality, he opts to meticulously reassemble these fragments through seductive twists and turns that, in a surprisingly lighthearted and intentionally self-deprecating manner, urge us to recognise our own limitations. Wei Dong and Sharon Coreʼs works toy with our comforting and often misleading preconceptions of “painting”, and elucidate concerns surrounding the current relationship between the trajectories of art history and the history of non-aesthetic events. Simultaneously, the visions of Noritoshi Hirakawa, Martha Colburn and Alfred Steiner contextualize sexuality in unexpected and often hilarious venues, confronting inherent connections between our knowledge, passions and visual perception.
Seeing – a simple, passive process performed by infants before speaking or walking – is now an active one that requires the spectator to, at least momentarily, claim a point of reference in the endlessly complex cultural, historical and linguistic matrix, and constantly evaluate automatic associations that arise as our mind attempts to fully realized the image of the "sight". Khanlar Gasimov's "I was a Sensitive Mountain" complicates this by introducing the visualisation of language along with our penchant for recognition. Margi Geerlinks and Franciscus & Franciscus create photographs that capture our awareness of timeʼs repercussions and visualize the nonlinear dimension of our emotional time, while Jansson Stegner, Jennifer Reeves, Holly Coulis, Ashley Hope and Eteri Chkadua create highly stylized mise-en-scénes that transport the spectatorsʼ eye to a novelistic, often political para-reality without granting permission for unrestrained escapism.