Transposing the imaginary worlds we all hide has never become more accessible, than at the AFA Gallery. “Pandora’s Box” refers to the artifact given the world’s first woman—Pandora, Zeus’s creation via Hephaestus, who opened the jar or pithos. According to the Greek myth by Hesiod, she unleashed human evils and suffering unto the world.
Coming to symbolize unforeseen affliction and problems we all face, much like Eve in the Bible, “Pandora was a ‘beautiful evil,’ a false treasure, an inverted image of the feminine. Instead of giving, she takes—as we do—releasing evils we do not understand and cannot take back” (Gaia Foundation). It only makes sense then that the gallery continues to honor its themes of emotional complexity, fantasy and symbolism.
Moved by Jeffrey Deitch’s statement at Art Basel 2015—“installation art is dead”—gallery owner Heidi Leigh notes: “All technical virtuosity, albeit executed on a computer, by brush or with clay, comes from something.” Tolkienesque—in every sense of the term, I had the privilege of speaking to some artists present:
1. William Basso sculpts very Tim Burtonesque monochrome characters from clay, wood and old fabrics. Each has a Polish title. Emerging from his interest in European graphics and film making, these emblems are reminiscent of the ‘circus or a ramshackle theater production quality’. They signal a detour from his prior work: “My mixed media work utilized a lot of photography and sculptural cloths and things I built—and people were responding. Having worked with special effects for films, he felt encouraged by the people around him to share his sculptures. Their monochromatic quality is also intriguing, as he always saved the coloring of his collages for last.
2. Anne Bachelier whose dream-like inventive triptychs portray mythical fantastic images. Viewers are naturally hypnotized by the mythological allusions and endless interpretation. Otherworldly and hypnotic, figures seem to ethereally arise from smoky shadows. She notes: “Depuis mon enfance, j’avait besoin d’exprimer les choses dans ma tête”, since childhood, she always felt the need to express the things in her head’—and the sublime quality of ‘these things’ leave us wondering—in awe.
3. Bill Common is an acrylic painter who doesn’t like to be categorized. Realist nor surrealist, he affirms that he is consistently only ‘non-referential’: “I got to the point where I could express anything I am thinking, but just prefer to think about what it is I want to say,” he says. His eye-catching illustrations feature a varied repertoire of people, animals and objects that definitely ‘jump out at you’.
Pandora’s Box Is On View: December through January 31st, 2016
Gallery Hours: Monday—Saturday 10AM-7PM, Sunday 11AM-6PM: 54 Greene St, New York, NY 10013
Art Review and Photography: Farrah Sarafa and Anne Bachelier