INSIDE OUT features the work of ten international artists, the majority of whom is currently living and working in New York. In their respective oeuvres, they all share the common tendency of a return to characters and character-based imagery. The artists work with literary and comedic tropes, in particular the grotesque and the cartoonish. On an additional level, they expose the workings of the subconscious with its darker undercurrents of social and political issues, such as gender identity, race, or consumerism, by means of resorting to metamorphosis. Thus, we are enabled to peek into the artists’ own concerns and reflections as they transform their characters from the INSIDE OUT, through the mechanics of portraiture and auto-portraiture.
The artists explore a range of subject matter by capturing and reshaping visual instances from their immediate environments, using a range of techniques, such as painting, drawing, sculpture or film. As such, they not only draw inspiration from their experiences and personal history, but also from their imagination. Some have a more intuitive way of working, while others draw inspiration for their source imagery directly from the world of cartoons and animation. By means of comic stylization, which is grounded in reduction and caricature, these artists create humorous, yet not immediately discernible, references. They express themselves in a way that is seemingly enigmatic at first, but becomes legible by the viewer and communicates its underlying concerns of class structure, gender identity, race, capitalism, consumerism and self-doubt. Thus, the viewer moves between the global levels of these universal issues to the individual level of the artistic expressions, which are based on personal experience. Moreover, this ambiguity is also expressed in the contrast between the seemingly accessible imagery and the ambiguous concepts lying behind the works.
The works present characters that challenge the traditional definitions and limits of gender. For example, Camille Henrot’s hybrid figures manage to humorously destabilize power structures while being caught in absurdist scenarios. By creating these scenarios and using sexual imagery, she questions and subverts canonical tropes and properties. In addition, Ella Kruglyanskaya redistributes the dynamics of power through her paintings of women: Scenes that are seemingly familiar are for example revealed as clichés and thus quickly unravel into absurdity and satire. Moreover, Tala Madani challenges conventional notions of masculinity in her work, while Catherine Czudej presents a sardonic take on the dominant figure of the male sculptor. Jamian Juliano-Villani and Michael Williams intentionally create confusion by deciphering the narrative within their paintings. Thus, their works resist a straightforward interpretation. A tension pervades the works in the exhibition as several of the artists tackle these issues with an increased emphasis on self-awareness, and allude to personal and private struggles with one’s own identity. In his work, Rashid Johnson for instance investigates the relationship between the black experience and anxiety.
Interested in questions of selfhood and self-image, Calvin Marcus’s and Ebecho Muslimova’s self-portraits present respectively, an image of the devil, and Muslimova’s alter ego, Fat Ebe. The works stare back at the viewer, as in the case of Wyatt Kahn’s imposing mouth, which draws the viewer in. The works presented in INSIDE OUT invite the viewer to reflect on their thematic enigmas and conceptual ambiguities. They illustrate the plurality of human experience and confront the viewer.
On occasion of the exhibition, a catalogue will be published.