“Descend, so that you may ascend." - St. Augustine, Confessions
“Vast Chairs of upturned faces, line o’er line, Then my blood froze, for every face was mine." - G.K.Chesterton, The Mirror of Madmen
“Pleased to meet you." - Mick Jagger/Keith Richards, lyrics from Sympathy for the Devil
Mary Carlson's third exhibition at Elizabeth Harris Gallery, Demons, is a continuation of her 2014 show called Paradise which consisted of sculptures of various saints. Adam and Eve, and flowers made out of glazed porcelain. This exhibition starts with Shame, a figure referencing Massacio's Expulsion and goes on to depict various demons and figures - many inspired by Giotto's Scrovegni chapel in Padua, Italy. They range from the human-like demons in the last judgment, where people are swallowed, pushed and pulled in hell, to the figures elsewhere in the chapel - Envy, Judas, and Joachim. Envy is shown with an outreaching arm, a bag of money in the other, and a snake coming out of her mouth which then circles back to her forehead. Judas has a demon at his back whose paw is gently touching his shoulder. Joachim has gone to the desert to decide whether or not he should leave his wife, Anne. He has a dream and decides to stay with his wife and they become the grandparents of Jesus.
The show also includes St. Anthony the Great inspired by Martin Schongauer‘s etching of The Temptation of St. Anthony. St. Anthony lived in the desert in partial or complete isolation. He was haunted by illusions of wild beasts, snakes, wolves and scorpions. which would disappear once he verbally confronted them. After Anthony emerged from his isolation legend has it that he appeared serene and in good health. In Carlson's version the demons are not included but Anthony appears off-balance nevertheless.
Carlson is especially fond of various representations of Saint Margaret of Antioch - from the Western Church's depiction of her emerging from the body of a demon, to the Eastern Church's depiction of Margaret going after a demon with a hammer. Here's the story - Margaret of Antioch lived in the 4th century, and was asked by a Roman Governor to marry, but she refused. He threw her in a dungeon with a dragon who proceeded to swallow her. She escaped by tickling its innards and emerged intact. She is always depicted standing up; therefore not a victim. St. Margaret is also the patron saint of childbirth. pregnant women, and kidney diseases.
Throughout her career, Carlson has depicted everything from furniture and dishes to US flags, underwater creatures and birds. In this show she uses as a starting point, paintings. frescos and manuscripts of various religious themes. She is a recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts. and 0 Louis Comfort Tiffany Fellowship in 2015. The artist would like to gratefully acknowledge the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation for their support. She has shown her work at the Venice Biennale. Vienna Kunsthalle. KOnstlerhaus Bathanien Berlin, the New Museum. ArtOmi, and many galleries in the US.
Mary Carlson was born in Stevens Point, Wisconsin and she lives and works in New York City and upstate New York.
The gallery is located at 529 West 20th Street, 6th floor, and is open Tuesday through Saturday 11-6. There will be a reception for the artist on Thursday. October 20th from 6-8pm.
For further information contact Miles Manning at 212 463-9666.