Uncannyland | Julia Cundari, Jackie Dives, Ivana Sepa, and David Vegt
May 31 – June 14, 2019
Opening Reception: Friday, May 31, 6 to 9 pm
Explored initially psychologically by Ernst Jentsch in a 1906 article, and made widely known by Sigmund Freud in his 1919 essay called Das Unheimliche, the concept of the uncanny can be defined as "the strangeness in the ordinary." Jacques Lacan expanded it, writing that the uncanny "places us in the field where we do not know how to distinguish bad and good, pleasure from displeasure," resulting in irreducible anxiety that gestures to the real.
In Uncannyland, four artists work within the boundaries of the uncanny through completely distinct styles and mediums. Julia Cundari's works explore the performativities of space concerning the 'unknown.' With darkly rendered abstract paintings, Cundari contemplates moments of stillness within our current ecological climate and state of urban redevelopment. Shadowed gardenscapes, depicted as eerie nighttime environments, puts the viewer in a new, unfamiliar space, questioning what is portrayed, and how it makes one feel.
Parallel, Ivana Sepa examines the same relationship between the human and natural world, employing a completely distinct visual narrative: in her paintings, the human figure is distinguishable, though always trying to merge with its surroundings, escaping our gaze. What holds the tension in these works are the dualities they evoke: calm and fear; hide and seek; peacefulness and restlessness. One is left in the limbo – not sure how to distinguish pleasure from displeasure. Moreover, this feeling is also carried through David Vegt's paintings.
In Vegt's works, the human figure is front and center, and unapologetically realistic. In a tribute to the history of painting and an ode to old masters, Vegt appropriates from still-shots from a fast-paced contemporary music video to force the viewer into stopping and looking. In an era of fast consumption media, his paintings are impossible to dismiss easily. The devilish surroundings speak directly to a generation born into the world of house-parties, but that is most likely oblivious to the artistic visual references (Rembrandt, Repin, and Caravaggio). Vegt's navigates the limits of the familiar and unfamiliar, where a drunken girl embraces a goat; and a partygoer dubbed as Joan D'Arc.
Finally, Jackie Dives' photographs come as a synthesis, with minimalist and surrealist juxtapositions of rotting vegetables with everyday objects, merging the natural, the human, and the psychological struggle. In her work, the artist revives the idea of the Memento Mori – a Latin expression loosely translated as 'remember that you will die.' Her sculpturesque images are abstract autobiographical still lifes that contemplate aging and death, elevating mundane objects to treasured keepsakes, serving us the 'strangeness in the ordinary,' one uncanny image after another.