The Mystic and the Cycad
Nicelle Beauchene Gallery is delighted to present a show of new works by Kristine Moran.
Central to the artist’s third solo exhibition of paintings at the gallery are moments of biotic,
supernatural, and aesthetic metamorphosis iterated in the recursive elaboration of two salient
figures: the mystic and the cycad.
The cycad comprises any of various palmlike gymnospermous cone-bearing evergreen plants
of the division Cycadophyta, native to tropical and subtropical regions and having large
pinnately compound leaves. Among the earliest colonizers of terrestrial habitats, cycads
predate palms and flowering plants by millions of years, and their individual lifespans are
known to exceed a dozen centuries. Where endemic, they have come to emblematize eternal
life – manifesting a paradisiac counterpoint to flowers’ customary role in vanitas symbolism.
In these works, which activate painting as a complex narrative format, the cycad’s longevity
is the subject of attempted cooption by the arcane figure of the mystic: a profoundly
ambiguous, shape-shifting character whose hallucinatory rites, transmutations, and spiritchannelling stem from an unrelenting impulsion towards immortality.
Reconciling within her works a forceful entanglement between figuration and abstraction,
frenetic perspectival shifts, biomorphic gestures, otherworldly hues, and jungly, atmospheric
washes, the seemingly antithetic yearnings of Moran’s manifold aesthetic means coalesce into
an exploratory painterly engagement with liminal states between forms of being. Suffused
with art historical and personal encodings, the mystic’s navigation of the interstices between
life and death is rendered throughout with an urgent and hallucinatory visual logic bounded
by the rationalist backdrop of a greenhouse’s hard-edged armature.
Articulating equally through and in excess of its protean formal determinations, Moran’s
depiction of the mystic’s techno-organic heterology, digital-aware optical saturation, and
attempted harnessing of the cycad’s potency also suggests a timely concern with the
contemporary bioprospecting of ancient botanical knowledge. As such, her works wend their
allegorical trajectories through the critical conflicts splayed like spreading fronds across
today’s ecopolitical and bioethics faultlines. Here, painting is affirmed not only as an act of
invocation – in its reconstitution of the immaterial in facture – but also as a potential
mechanism for resistant aesthetic and political energies.
Kristine Moran (b. Montreal, Canada; lives and works in Brooklyn, NY) received her MFA
from Hunter College in 2008. She has shown internationally with exhibitions at Monica De
Cardenas Gallery, Milan; Clark & Faria, Toronto; Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art,
Toronto; and Western Exhibitions, Chicago. Her work has been the subject of extensive
coverage in numerous contemporary arts periodicals and is featured in the recent Phaidon
publication Vitamin P2.