by Alison Martin, Ed. by Audra Lambert
Through eras of American culture, from Robert Frost to Little House on the Prairie to Home Improvement, neighbors have always played an important role in the American psyche. Now, an innovative group exhibition hosted in two parts between Manhattan and Brooklyn (neighboring boroughs in New York City) gives us insights into the creative world of artists by peeking at their work over the fence, so to speak. Intricate Neighbors I & Intricate Neighbors II, the two components of this group exhibition, draw from the impact that neighboring countries exert on each other by viewing artworks by artists from North America, South Korea, Pakistan and other locales.
The works in this exhibition, created by artists the world over, include paintings, sculpture, drawing and new media. Both locations are set up to depict an outdoor setting as though entering a neighbor’s backyard with the floor covered in artificial grass and vines mixed with purple and other kinds of colorful flowers. The Border gallery exhibit, on view through June 10, complements the portion on view at Galerie Protege through June 17, Intricate Neighbors II: allowing insights into the aesthetic of the exhibit as a two-part yet unified whole.
Intricate Neighbors I contains a stunning painting, “Dinner”, by Korean artist Ara Cho. The work features an outline of a nude woman’s body kneeling underneath a dining room table as grass grows beneath her. Her neck and head are transformed into a flower pot rising up onto the table, pink and blue flowers emerging from its soil. An overhead kitchen lamp bathes the flowers in light, while another nude figure – denoted only by its visible legs – is seated at the table with a knife and fork in hand. Another Korean artist, Hyon Gyon, displays the artwork “My 1990s”, featuring assemblages of acrylic paint, artificial flowers, and fabrics on canvas that burst open with color and energy.
Intricate Neighbors II includes another oil and fabric painting by Cho, “The Colorful Lunch”. Similar to “Dinner”, Cho delves into an imaginary fantasy world including such figures as a human body with a horse’s head attached. This reverse centaur hybrid wears a dark blue suit, sitting on the grass supported by his elbow, with his other hand pointing out an imaginary person. A headless nude female figure sits across from him as plants sprout from her neck. Above her is a rainbow, and a dark cloud made from fabric, the only three-dimensional element of the piece. Surreal and jarring the work combines to exude a disorienting effect.
“Basic Pulley Theory” by Denise Treizman also makes an impression. The work consists of a rope hanging from the ceiling with colorful ceramic tires on either end. One end is meant to be heavier than the other as it drags to the ground leaving the other hanging end suspended up in the air.
Notably, a short video by Bolo (a duo consisting of artists Qinza Najm and Saks Afridi) makes an appearance. Titled “Carousel”, the work features a 3-D animated “dictator” character with voice narrations by actor Charlie Chaplin from his 1940 film The Great Dictator reciting phrases such as “humanity is lost and has been replaced by machines” and “we must replace cleverness with kindness.”
Intricate Neighbors I is on view through June 10 at The Border, 56 Bogart St., Brooklyn, NY. The project space is open on weekends from 1-6 p.m. and by appointment during the week. Intricate Neighbors II is on view at Galerie Protégé, 197 9th Avenue, New York, NY, through Jun. 17. The gallery is open Mon.-Sat. from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.