Gothic Sensibilities and Romantic Melodrama at Brumfield’s Gallery

During the summer of 1816—marked by extreme weather, crop failure, famine, and epidemics across Europe, Asia and the Americas—Mary Shelley stayed at Villa Diodati near Lake Geneva, Switzerland with Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, and Doctor John Polidori. The group whiled away their time inventing horror stories and talking of ghosts, mystical beings, apocryphal events, and the latest scientific discoveries. It was the summer that Frankenstein was born. 

The summer group exhibition at Brumfield’s Gallery in Boise, Idaho, isinspired by the same gothic sensibilities and taste for melodrama espoused by these eminent Victorian forbears. Bringing together painting, drawing, lithography, sculpture, and ritualistic assemblage works by the gallery’s artists—Chris Mars, Kevin Titzer, Jane Andrews, Len Shelley, Michael DeMeng, Kyla Zoe Rafert, Ego, and Michael Barnes—“Gothic Fiction and the Dark Romantics” presents breathtaking, at times morbid images of the darker cast of an other-world, which persists in personal narratives, dreams, even myths, despite the altered context of contemporary science and technologies. 

The figurative realism in Ego’s acrylic painting Transmutation Under Her Command (2013) alienates through the strange amalgam of a disembodied hand, eye, and rune surrounding the central, ambiguously human, skeletal creature. Jane Andrews’s canvas Sisters of Mercy depicts her ghoulishly hairless subjects bending from the waist in toil, tribute, or pain; while Michael DeMeng’s mixed-media reliquary, Hijos, constructed from found objects, perhaps alludes to the “offspring” of its Spanish language title with a collection of miniature ornamental skulls. 

Gothic Fiction and the Dark Romantics” is on view at Brumfield’s Gallery, Boise, Idaho, June 14th–August 2nd, 2014.

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