It is a natural part of human nature to imitate. When one is approached by beauty in the world, they want to recreate and covet it. Plato describes mimesis in a somewhat derogatory way, criticizing its innate and suspect inauthenticity. The contemporary artists of this exhibition choose to embrace this conceit, showcasing how through each level of removal from reality, the imitation becomes more beautiful and idealized.
Naomi White, in her mixed-media collages creates bombastic impressions of the most striking, physical elements of romanticized femininity. In Competing Desires 2, she adorns a tempestuous and monochrome female eye with vibrant cellophane. Above the eye, one can see a glimpse of a barcode. The monochromatic eye is reality. The cellophane can be considered the impression, or the aesthetic representation of primal and indulgent sensations one feels when approached by sexualized femininity. Therefore, the final piece, both eye and foil can be considered the complete mimesis, or the materialized representation of one's emotional reaction.
Paul Giggle is concerned with the tangible application of mimesis. He uses reflections and refraction to emphasize the difference in how we interpret the mimeses from the original. He contextualizes these women in water particularly due its reflective properties as well as its baptismal symbolism. In Split personality, he somewhat cheekily uses the water to halve the subject at the waistline, dichotomizing the upper and lower halves of her body. The upper half, the original, is lucid and understandable. The lower half, the mimesis, is tinted, distorted, and representative of the sexual objectification of the male gaze.
Diana Benedetti in her collage works literally compliments the notion of mimesis in that her collage works utilize images from vintage publications and then composes the work in a way to show the many tags associated with the woman and her connection to the objects depicted as markers of class, identity and gender.
Romain Bonnet shields the woman in his compositions from the gaze of the viewer by veiling her face through mists and shadows thereby setting up a divide from the manipulations of the viewer, thus shielding her from definitions that the subject may reject, or not be prepared to take on as identity.
Emma Coyle presents painterly ‘snapshots’ of women in quiet moments of reflection which because we are looking at them implies that there are few private moments that many actually spend their lives under the speculation of others. Quite often, one cannot shield themselves from the scrutiny of others, but here in Lost I and Succession, Coyle has turned the tables, as it were, because we cannot see the eyes of her women due to the sunglasses, but the women in both works can see us - and in so doing they are watching us in our moments of reflection.
Erik Brede, presents representational portraits of woman that do not hide the beauty of the woman presented, but do mark her, or tattoo as seen in his work: Tattoo Girl who is tattooed with intricate stencils of nature; flowers and butterflies. What is interesting beyond the defiant gaze of the woman depicted is the butterflies who now that they are satisfied are breaking away from the composition - one wonders do the butterflies have more freedom than the woman?
Lastly, Patrick Gonzalez also presents representations of woman and also young girls trapped in vintaged themed compositions shielded by elements of nature. In Gonzales’ work though one has the notion that there is little space for his women in this world that crowds the woman and leaves her little room but to peek out at the world that addresses her.
A recurring theme in the works presented in this exhibition is that there seems to be a direct connection and also a contrast within the relationship of the woman and nature: It is both welcoming, but also stifling. Both women and nature are historically seen often as fragile and in need of protection - it is this labeling that enables mimesis, that copying of an idea, but as with Plato - it is the mutability of the idea that concerns, and though this exhibition has focused on aesthetically pleasing representations, it is also the idea of the woman, her memetic quality that often leaves her caged and defined by the ideals and archetypes of others.
Melanie Prapopoulos & Jason Wilkotz