Unfeigned Mysteries

7 Jun 2024 – 12 Jul 2024

Regular hours

11:00 – 18:00
11:00 – 18:00
11:00 – 18:00
11:00 – 18:00
11:00 – 18:00

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New York
New York, United States

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DIMIN presents Unfeigned Mysteries, a three-person exhibition from New York artists Whit Harris, Sarah Alice Moran and Elena Redmond. Guided by Homeric hymns, the human form, and metaphors for a higher truth, these three artists seek to test the limits of spiritual imagination. Referring to the mystery religions of ancient Greece such as Orphism and the cult of Eleusis, Unfeigned Mysteries offers a contemporary take on these secret sects which promised their initiates truth and revelations of the unknown, the afterlife, and the continuity of the soul.

Working across drawing, painting, and ceramic media Whit Harris concentrates on representations of the dissolute experience through disjointed depictions of the human body. Figures stretch, recline, wriggle, twerk and otherwise contort themselves in exaggerated expressions that oscillate between naturalistic and cartoonish forms, and recall the DuBoisian premise of “double consciousness” underlying contemporary Black identity. These figures become metaphors for the artist’s psychological adaptation to unpredictable and hostile environments born out of sexist and racist social structures, reflecting the tenacity and ingenuity of Black femme imagination as political resistance. The paintings in Unfeigned Mysteries come out of a contemplative space she experienced during a recent residency in upstate New York. In seeking the sublime in everyday encounters, Harris depicts different cloud formations as a metaphor for the possibility and limit of human imagination when confronted with things outside of one's control - much like the weather. Portraying a female nude climbing a hill in the rain, Femme with Piss Rain recalls the rites and rituals of the ancient Mysteries, offering sexual and symbolic gestures to the gods in search of enlightenment.  As Harris explains; “I’m interested in the ambiguity of perception, and I enjoy playing with innuendo and double meaning as metaphors for larger truths about human identity”.

Sarah Alice Moran’s atmospheric dreamscapes utilize familiar mythological imagery of humans, animals and gods as they transpose forms across canvases in which magic is real and different worlds exist side by side. Drawing on classic inspiration including Ovid’s Metamorphosis and Homer’s Odyssey, these paintings present a duality of nurturing and motherhood, alongside primal aggression and predators. In an effort to reverse the notion of prey, Moran eschews stories in which women were portrayed as polymorphic monsters in favor of creating an ambiguity around the actions of her subjects – running, hunting and embracing. Process is central to Moran’s work as she depicts the blurred lines between myth and reality using color and form. Working directly on unprimed canvases laid flat on the ground, she creates mixtures in different viscosities of acrylic paint, matte medium and water. Applying the liquid with a variety of tools, she allows the watery pigments to mix and spread, working intuitively and quickly, allowing color and form to emerge from a place of deep confidence. Among her newest work, Victorious personifies the traditional caryatid form, the female figure as a stationary support sculpture in ancient architecture. Instead, the statuesque form comes to life, seated cross-legged atop a pedestal and clad in socks and sneakers. Moran is also returning to Ovid and the tale of Pygmalion, who falls in love with his own sculpture, praying to Aphrodite to bring the statue to life. His wish was granted during Aphrodisia festival, when the cult of the goddess performed their secret rituals.

Elena Redmond uses self-portraiture as a window offering a voyeuristic, jewel-toned glimpse into her personal relationship with privacy, vulnerability and power. These themes are self-scrutinized by the artist’s investigation into infamous pop culture moments and virality in the Internet Age. Through a series of intersecting glazes, Redmond draws the focus from the realism of the detailed foreground to the soft and darkening upper edges, often framed by architectural elements. In Portrait of Time, imagery a window disappearing from the picture plane is meant to draw both the subject and viewer into the unseen space just beyond view. She describes her current work as transitional, in which her avatar has morphed into a more human form. Nude figures appear distracted by the unseen, perhaps looking through a window, a mirror, or in the case of Transference, their own self portrait. This ‘portrait of a self-portrait’ is seen throughout art history, from Las Meninas by Velazquez to Norman Rockwell’s Triple Self-Portrait. The tender obsession it conjures is also consistent with the myth of Narcissus, who fell in love with his own reflection. Again from Ovid: “for so he marvels at himself, and lies with countenance unchanged, as if indeed a statue carved of Parian marble”.

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