Material Mythos

June 22 - July 29, 2017

Geary Contemporary is pleased to present a group exhibition featuring works by Laura Bernstein, Ben Dowell, Heidi Lau, Sangram Majumdar, and Clintel Steed. Material Mythos is a convergence of artists that engage the conversation of invented and sustained mythologies through material and object.

Many of the works endeavor to build onto existing cultural mythos that the artist has been bestowed through heritage.

Macau-born Heidi Lau’s hand-built ceramic sculptures are imbedded with symbols and elements that make reference to Daoist creation myths. Working to investigate the materiality and non-linearity of the past, her works embody a visceral, sometimes grotesque awareness of otherworldliness. They populate the temporal spaces between history and nature, and concurrently work to create a tether between the plane of the exhibition space and remaining works on the walls.

Brooklyn-based Sangram Majumdar embeds history and experience within his paintings, where fragmented information gives way to something new and unexpected. Historical artworks are often used as source material, where Majumdar replaces key elements and narratives with color fields, gestural marks, and renderings. Imagery that might anchor his work to a specific time, place, or figurative representation is hazy, offering an invitation to wander through the interior of a mind in flux.

This thought process is congruous to the performative paint gestures seen in Ben Dowell’s work. Dowell uses one brush to pile lines and shapes onto his canvases, underscoring the nature of painting itself. Squares and rectangles structurally predominate as delectable clumps of brightly colored oil paint. Imperfect borders of exposed linen with leeching paint oils on each of the works are allowed to remain, generating a precarious relationship between material and image.

Boundaries of space and body are also questioned in Clintel Steed’s painted structures. Steed loosely references specific buildings and structures with an explosive fracturing of form. His work celebrates paint as material, unlocking its inherent possibilities and varied viscosities, with interlocking facets of paint to be found within traversable space.

In Laura Bernstein’s video works, she confronts the relationship between observer and the observed—shifting and flipping between those who are in power and those who are held captive. She explores the relationship between the exemplary and the freakish, where humanoid species are reduced to dysmorphic limbs, discovering their nature through ad hoc ritual and disoriented movement: preening, courting, marking their territory, all within various landscapes.

All of these artists energetically court chaos and weave contradictions into their work. They share in the exploration of the spaces between actuality and illusion, myth and reality, and work to uncover and deconstruct the strangeness of the everyday.