Einstein’s “Theory of Relativity”; the sewing machine; The Beatles song “Yesterday”; Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein—these are all achievements that originated in dreams. In addition to great inventors and pioneers of science, music, and literature, scores of artists have been inspired by dreams, namely, the Surrealists and Symbolists. Though their methods and investigations differed, both groups understood dreams as an entryway to the subconscious. In the late 18th and 19th centuries, Francisco de Goya and Honoré Daumier found inspiration in nightmares, which they popularized in prints. Contemporary artist Shannon Richardson joins this dialogue in her current exhibition at Brumfield’s Gallery, in vibrant dreamscapes that recall the meditative tableaux of another relevant artist, Marc Chagall.
Richardson’s new show, “The Reunion of Night and Day” recalls a similar dichotomy that Chagall once expressed, when he determined that he was born somewhere “between heaven and earth.” Also sharing Chagall’s penchant for vibrant colors, floating figures, and affable animals, Richardson describes her works as “[transcending] the boundaries between memory and fantasy with an added element of the fantastic.” While she draws heavily on memories, and alters them to reflect how she imagines they could have played out, she explains, “the truth becomes the fable and what I find is not myself, but more the shadow of self and the remnants of dreams.” Within the Fold, an especially compelling work, displays Richardson’s ability to capture an ethereal quality, achieved through ghostly, levitating forms, her many-layered technique, which employs a squeegee, and her luminous palette, that at times, attains fluorescence. Juxtaposing seemingly troubled human figures with foxes or a fawn, rendered in contrasting lights and darks, she reiterates polarities of night and day, and joy and sadness, in spirited, pensive visualizations that question where dreams end and reality begins.
“The Reunion of Night and Day” is on view at Brumfield’s Gallery, Boise, Idaho, through may 3rd, 2014.