Upon entering the Copenhagen Interpretation at the Lodge Gallery on the Lower East Side, the viewer is immediately struck with profound awe in gazing around at the vast variety of artwork on display. The show is a collection of “18 unique artists who transform the mundane into the fantastical,” as explained by the show’s press release. Varying greatly in style, texture, and subject matter, bright colors and slightly bizarre imagery are not uncommon in the collection. One of the most striking of the pieces is by artist Christian Rex Van Minnen. The medium sized oil painting by Van Minnen is visible immediately upon entering the front door to the gallery. The painting reveals a dark black background behind what initially appears to be a traditional style still-life bouquet of flowers. After a quick double take, the viewer realizes that what would normally be flowers are surreal, seemingly genital-like fleshy flowers of various shapes, textures and colors. Some of the “flowers” which perhaps resemble sea creatures, are painted over in a black grid like texture that creates its own layer of images superimposed over the flowers. Another ‘flower’ near the top of the bunch appears more like a two dimensional graffiti tag of orange and yellow. The painting certainly takes the viewer to a realm of bizarre and surreal, while creating a new twist to traditional painting. Beneath the green vase that contains the flowers, the words “NEVER RELAX!” are written horizontally across the surface upon which the vase sits. One might speculate that Van Minnen advises his audience to never let their guard down into relaxing into recognizing the familiar, and to realize nothing is what it seems upon first look.
Another piece in the show that stood out as profoundly intriguing was by artist Jean Pierre Roy. His large painting in the back corner of the gallery features a photorealistic image of two men from a ground looking up perspective. The man in front is crouching down in a huddled semi-circle of slices of shattered mirrors, which form what almost appears to be a small shelter. The ragged mirrors reflect the exterior environment of a gorgeous hot pink and orange sunset accented by the fluff of passing clouds. The man crouching inside of the mirrors has his face completely concealed by smaller mirror shards that are pieced together to create an eyeless mask. Another man with a mirror-covered face stands in the background, as if overlooking this whole scene, except that he cannot see. The image could possess a variety of meanings, although one interpretation is the use of reflecting others’ energy as a form of self-protection, commentary on creating ourselves based on the behaviors of others around us and using this mirroring as a form of protection to the point of losing one’s own identity. The background behind the two figures leads to a luscious eggshell blue sky; perhaps indicating that the beauty reflected externally may not reflect the internal state of the two characters. The painting is rich in vibrant color and creates alluring and intriguing content for discussion and admiration.
Participating artists: Aaron Johnson (US), Alfred Steiner (US), Barnaby Whitfield (US), Christian Rex van Minnen (US), Daniel Davidson (US), Debra Hampton (US), Eric White (US), Isaac Arvold (US), Jacob Dahlstrup (DK), Jade Townsend (US), Jean-Pierre Roy (US), John Jacobsmeyer (US), Mi Ju (KOR/US), Mu Pan (TW/US), Nicola Verlato (IT), Rainer Hosch (AUT/US), Tom Sanford (US) and William Powhida (US).
The Copenhagen Interpertation at the Lodge Gallery
March 3 – April 4, 2015
131 Chrystie Street, NYC
Article by Lia Simone
Photography provided by The Lodge Gallery and Jamie Martinez