“The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity in which we are permitted to remain children all our lives.” – Albert Einstein
In art it has always been the pursuit of beauty and finding our own truth within its context. AF got confronted with these matters last February 7th at Site/109 on Norfolk Street for the opening of Ayse Wilson: Recent Works presented by Jack Geary Contemporary. Wilson produced works of children depicted in the flux of flushed innocence to the awareness of knowing in adulthood.
Wilson was the painting assistant to Jeff Koons for several years and in her recent oeuvre that she exhibited a unique variance on nostalgia that vacillates between the sad loss of innocence and finding the moment of truth. It is a vibrant juxtaposition of themes that come through on the paintings. The faces of the children with their deep vacant black eyes, doll-like faces, and prim lips can be the more adorable version of Edvard Munch’s The Scream before it let out its anguished cry. Based on her imagination and found photographs that Wilson created scenes of childhood and settings that are treated in monochromatic background and a palette that is dusky with a tonality akin to Munch’s as well. T-Rex (2012) has a little girl in a pink cap and baby doll dress holding her toy dinosaur in the old master background of black. The figure wistfully stands out but she stares with her black pools for eyes edging on still being the precocious little girl or has she seen something that will cause her to drop that T-Rex. Sisters Walk to Town (2013) could be a neo-version of American Gothic by Grant Wood as two figures with the same black holes for eyes clad in puritan black-white outfits ready to journey far from innocence deep into a David Lynch Twin Peaks kind of town. Chorus (2013) in its line up of a children’s choir wearing the same pale mask, black eyes, and open lips with its Sepia tone treatment could break into a cacophony of either angelic singing or ear splitting screams. Imagine a multitude of Munch’s screaming heads and for that veneer of precious childhood that it can flip quickly into a searing jolt of adulthood reality. Such is the reflective power of Wilson’s imagery in her work that you cannot ignore the dichotomy she skillfully illustrates with these black-eyed faces.
Must we lose our innocence to grow up? Many would debate but in life, we have to lose our initial bearings in order to find ourselves in a different but better place from where we began. It’s part of the journey so might as well enjoy the ride.
Ayse Wilson: Recent Works / On View: February 8 – 24, 2013
Gallery Hours: Wed – Sun (12 – 6 pm) & Mon/Tue by appointment
Site/109. 109 Norfolk Street. NYC, NY 10002
art review by: Oscar A. Laluyan
art images from Site/109 & Jack Geary Contemporary courtesy of the artist
event photography by: Max Noy