Coniunctio

Coniunctio

The title comes from a medieval, alchemical concept regarding the union of opposites. Harvey and Kyung-Me each present intricate works on paper and find common ground in the directness and intimacy of drawing. Symmetry and order are prized by both artists, and their work shares the influence of religious art and symbolism. Harvey’s work is manifestly inspired by Gothic architecture and borrows devotional imagery from many traditions. The exhibition opens with Harvey’s mystical and diagrammatic compositions which are housed inside custom-built wood frames. The ethereal quality of Harvey’s work is contrasted by Kyung-Me’s concrete renderings of an imagined modernist home. Her rigorously detailed interiors advance a contemporary eden, where the paragon of luxury is achieved at the expense of a trapped and alienated self.

Kyung-Me’s suite of seven meticulous pen drawings are hung sequentially so that the viewer may traverse the rooms and gain an overview of her elaborately designed interior. Adhering to a rigid one-point perspective, the rooms are replete with references to specific works of art and design objects. Many are furnished with Frank Lloyd Wright objects, citing the architect’s obsessive desire to control every aspect of his designs, down to the exact placement of domestic items. Other art works suggest a more boundless ideal: one room features a hazy Rothko, another a Jackson Pollock. In a sitting room, seen from telescoping vantage points in two of the drawings, the chaos and misery of Bruegel’s Fall of the Rebel Angels hangs beyond a perfectly-placed grand piano seen through a circular doorway. The Tale Of Genji screens and murals appear in several rooms, their axonometric perspective offering an antidote to Kyung-Me’s overarching single vanishing point. Indeed, many of the depicted artworks provide a cathartic break from the imposing order of this luxurious abode, while some, like a violated Hans Bellmer figure, echo the interior’s foreboding atmosphere. Bellmer’s bound flesh sits alone within a Japanese shelving unit, a carnal anomaly amidst Kyung-Me’s tableaux of well-appointed inanimate objects. One may also detect furtive hand or foot; the crown of a head grazing the top of a Harvey Probber sofa suggesting a figure staring out a barred window. The sumptuous domicile appears to have no exit; each room leads to the next in an anxious closed-circuit. The drawings then become a metaphor for entrapment and the desire to escape illusion.

Harvey’s work references the stark contrasts of his native Fall River, Massachusetts, where Victorian opulence clashes with post-industrial blight. Steam-bent wooden sculptures by Harvey dot the walls, punctuating the space between Kyung-Me’s drawings, tracing a shared architecture throughout the show. Harvey is also deeply connected with the natural world. Wood for the work was collected on Prudence Island from downed white oak trees which have been infested with the gypsy moth. In the center of the gallery, Harvey presents a large, chapel-like sculpture, a shock of red casting wax spires and smokestacks reaching skywards set atop a modernist tulip table base. The viscous material appears to flow and transform; a grand pipe organ blossoms with baroque flourishes in the shape of mushrooms, hearts and flowers. Halos and horns grow out of winding columns. The decision to leave the wax vulnerable to heat and flame adds a sacred and sacrificial quality to the piece. Peering deep inside the knave of this biomimetic chapel we see a loose depiction of Plato’s cave. The platonic allegory, which speaks of the release from the bondage of illusion in favor of the pursuit of knowledge, serves as a through line for the exhibition.

Coniunctio

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